Published: Tue, January 22, 2019
Finance | By Jaime Brady

Google fined record £44m by French data protection watchdog

Google fined record £44m by French data protection watchdog

France's data protection watchdog is slapping Google with an unprecedented fine citing the company's failure to meet privacy and transparency standards with user information.

In a statement explaining the action, the French agency known as the CNIL noted that the fine is a result of deficiencies that include Google not being clear enough about the way user data is handled to present personalized ads.

"The infringements observed deprive the users of essential guarantees regarding processing operations that can reveal important parts of their private life since they are based on a huge amount of data, a wide variety of services, and nearly unlimited possible combinations", a statement from CNIL said.

Implemented across the European Union (EU) in May of 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) aims to bar tech companies from relying on "long illegible terms and conditions full of legalese" to obtain and use data.

Google said in a statement it is "deeply committed" to transparency and user control as well as GDPR consent requirements.

In September past 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 a statement obtained by ABC News, a Google spokesperson said the company is "studying the decision" to determine its next steps.

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The CNIL said Google made it too hard for users to understand and manage preferences on how their personal information is used, in particular with regards to targeted advertising.

The fine stems from digital advocacy group complaints that followed shortly after GDPR took effect in May 2018. However, the GDPR provides that the consent is "specific" only if it is given distinctly for each goal.

'Also, the information provided is not sufficiently clear for the user to understand the legal basis for targeted advertising is consent, and not Google's legitimate business interests, ' the CNIL said. They also say that the pop-ups now used by the company to ask for consent on Android software seem to threaten that services will not be available if the users don't accept the terms.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The maximum fine for large companies under the new law is 4% of annual turnover, meaning the theoretical maximum fine for Google is nearly €4bn. Google also pre-ticks the boxes through which people agree to ad-personalisation.

La Quadrature du Net said it welcomes the "first part of the response to our complaint against Google".

Google has yet to issue a statement on the fine. Although nearly every internet company has had to alter its privacy and data collection policies to comply with the new ...

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