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Google's been fined €50 million for violating GDPR rules

22 January, 2019, 05:56 | Author: Sara Gill
  • France fines Google nearly $57 million for first major violation of new European privacy regime

"The amount decided, and the publicity of the fine, are justified by the severity of the infringements observed regarding the essential principles of the GDPR: transparency, information and consent", the CNIL said in a statement.

Paris - France's data privacy watchdog has fined Google 50 million euros ($57 million), the first penalty for a US tech giant under new European data privacy rules that took effect previous year.

In September previous year, the French regulator studied the information that's made available to users when they create a Google account on a new Android phone.

In response, Google said it is "studying the decision to determine our next steps", adding: "People expect high standards of transparency and control from us". They were described in a too generic and vague manner.

The two complaints were filed jointly on the day the law went into effect by the French digital advocacy group La Quadrature du Net and the group Noyb.eu, a watchdog organization started by Max Schrems.

The National Data Protection Commission said Monday it fined the US internet giant for "lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent" regarding ad personalization for users.


Once the General Data Protection Regulation, known as GDPR for short, went into effect in Europe past year, it was regarded as only a matter of time before regulators there would use the stricter privacy framework to push back on tech giants in a way that's not happening in the US.

"Following the introduction of GDPR, we have found that large corporations such as Google simply "interpret the law differently" and have often only superficially adapted their products".

"The relevant information is accessible after several steps only, implying sometimes up to 5 or 6 actions", CNIL said.

First, although Google does publish all the information required by the GDPR, the company makes it very hard for its users to find it and, in multiple cases, that information is not clear nor comprehensive according to CNIL.

The commission said users were "not sufficiently informed" about what they were agreeing to. At present, there is no reliable information available on how long the company saves user data, nor if they allow it to be used by other sites. We're deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR. Now that the new, EU-wide law is in place, the maximum is €20 million or 4% of global annual revenues. "It is important that the authorities make it clear that simply claiming to be complaint is not enough".

The French watchdog also noted that Google continues to engage in several of these illegal practices, meaning that they are part of a pattern of systemic GDPR violation rather than one-off offenses.

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