Technology

France to fine Google over privacy laws

Company maintains it has obeyed European regulations on data privacy

France says Google has not satisfactorily responded to a June decision giving the company three months to be more up front about its data collection.
2013 Getty Images

France said Friday it will fine Google Inc. up to 300,000 euros ($402,180) for allegedly breaking rules on data privacy.

The French agency that regulates information technology says Google had not satisfactorily responded to the agency’s June decision giving the company three months to be more up front about the data it collects from users.

Regulators also want Google to let users opt out of having their data centralized — for example, when data from online searches, Gmail and YouTube are crunched into a single location.

In a statement Friday, France's National Commission on Computing and Freedom, known as CNIL, expressed its intent to formally sanction Google, a process that could take months.

“Google responded to CNIL,” the statement said. “Google challenges CNIL’s reasoning notably on the application of the Data Protection Act on its services used by residents of France. The company therefore did not make the requested changes.”

Google maintains it has not violated any laws.  

"Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services. We have engaged fully with CNIL throughout this process and will continue to do so going forward," Google spokeswoman Nadja Blagojevic told Al Jazeera in an email.

Now it is up to Google — which has no serious competition in the huge European market — to decide whether the relatively small fines are enough of an incentive to rethink its privacy rules. 

However, the latest development puts some new pressure on Google, which is smarting from criticism over the fact that it provided customer data to the U.S. government as part of the fight against foreign threats.

The CNIL said five other European countries are taking similar steps in a staggered offensive against Google's privacy policy since the end of July.

It said Google has largely ignored earlier recommendations from European regulators. Similar actions are underway in Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and the Netherlands.

Al Jazeera’s Massoud Hayoun contributed to this report, with The Associated Press

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