Tuesday, April 02, 2013

European Regulators Investigating Google Over Privacy Concerns

Google may soon be facing a new legal threat from across the pond as regulators from six European countries launch investigations over online data protection and privacy concerns.

Authorities in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K. have voiced concerns over privacy policy changes Google enacted back in 2012. So far the search giant has refusing to reverse changes to its privacy policies leading regulators to take potential action which resulted int he regulators resolving to conduct investigations or inspections of Google's privacy policy. The precise nature of the actions will depend on how the European Data Protection Directive has been transposed in their respective national laws, however it could result in stiff penalties and fines. There is even the potential for regulators to sue to block Google from operating in Europe.

After the French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL) investigation concluded in October, CNIL said in a statement on Tuesday that "the EU Data protection authorities asked Google to comply with their recommendations within four months," . "After this period has expired, Google has not implemented any significant compliance measures."

The agencies complained that Google was not doing enough to comply with EU regulations and have stonewalled the agencies requests for over a year about their concerns that its unification of more than 60 separate privacy policies last year could confuse users and leave them unsure how their data was being used.

"We put our concerns to Google [in October] and gave them a date to respond," said a spokesperson for the ICO. "They failed to respond. We had a meeting in March and Google was present, and gave them a deadline to respond. They failed to respond. Google has failed to address the concerns or take on board the recommendations from the meeting held last month."

The UK's information commissioner's office (ICO) can levy fines of up to £500,000 ($756,400) for breaches of the Data Protection Act. A decision is expected by summer 2013.

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