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Google in trouble in EU

by on03 April 2013

Six countries take it on over privacy

European regulators moved a step closer to punishing Google for the way it handles user data after the search engine refused to change its privacy policy. France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Britain have begun a process to decide if Google's policy introduced in March 2012 broke national laws.

Google merged 60 privacy policies into one last year and started mixing data collected on users across its services. It gave the users no means to opt out. So far Twenty-nine European data protection regulators began a joint enquiry which is led by France's CNIL. The findings of the inquiry ruled that Google's new policy posed a "high risk" to the privacy of individuals.

While it stopped short of calling the policy change illegal, the regulators gave Google until February to propose changes but the search engine did not make any.

Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, CNIL's president said that regulators in six states have begun the process of looking at penalties, and each must now act based on national law. It will no longer be possible for Google to just promise to change, apparently “the clock is ticking.”

The six states have the power to impose fines on Google but each must go through a local inquiry to determine that a wrong had been committed under national law even after the European joint position published in October. However they will use the joint analysis to underpin their investigations and will "not start from scratch.”

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