France sanctions Google for European privacy law violations

The action follows a French-led analysis of Google's new privacy policy

Google faces financial sanctions in France after failing to comply with an order to alter how it stores and shares user data to conform to the nation's privacy laws.

The enforcement follows an analysis led by European data protection authorities of a new privacy policy that Google enacted in 2012, France's privacy watchdog, the Commission Nationale de L'Informatique et des Libertes, said Friday on its website.

Google was ordered in June by the CNIL to comply with French data protection laws within three months. But Google had not changed its policies to comply with French laws by a deadline on Friday, because the company said that France's data protection laws did not apply to users of certain Google services in France, the CNIL said.

The company "has not implemented the requested changes," the CNIL said.

As a result, "the chair of the CNIL will now designate a rapporteur for the purpose of initiating a formal procedure for imposing sanctions, according to the provisions laid down in the French data protection law," the watchdog said. Google could be fined a maximum of €150,000 (US$202,562), or €300,000 for a second offense, and could in some circumstances be ordered to refrain from processing personal data in certain ways for three months.

The CNIL took issue with several areas of Google's data policies, in particular how the company stores and uses people's data. How Google informs users about data that it processes and obtains consent from users before storing tracking cookies were cited as areas of concern by the CNIL.

In a statement, Google said that its privacy policy respects European law. "We have engaged fully with the CNIL throughout this process, and we'll continue to do so going forward," a spokeswoman said.

Google is also embroiled with European authorities in an antitrust case for allegedly breaking competition rules. The company recently submitted proposals to avoid fines in that case.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesGooglesecuritylegalsocial networkinginternetsocial mediaprivacysearch engines

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