Google Slapped with $57 Million Fine in Landmark GDPR Case

Amazon Apple Spotify and You Tube have flunked GDPR tests says privacy activist

Amazon Apple Spotify and You Tube have flunked GDPR tests says privacy activist

Google has been fined almost US$57 million (NZ$85 million) by French regulators for violating Europe's tough new data-privacy rules, marking the first major penalty brought against a U.S. technology giant since the region-wide regulations took effect a year ago. 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.

Secondly, even though Google says that it asks for its users' consent before processing data meant for ads personalization, CNIL's restricted committee found that is not the case given that users are not sufficiently informed during this process and the consent is neither "specific" nor "unambiguous", as required by the GDPR. They also found that information about the retention period is not provided for some data.

The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation gives Europeans more control over their information and how companies use it.

CNIL argued the size of the fine was valid as this was not only a basic violation of GDPR's "essential principles", but an ongoing violation rather than a one-time fault.

Google did not immediately respond to Ars' request for comment, but it told The Washington Post in a statement that it is "deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR". The new fine, however, is yet another example of European-led pushback against the search giant, which has also come under fire from EU officials over antitrust concerns.

CNIL launched an online inspection to check the compliance of Google's processing operations with both the GDPR and the French Data Protection Act by "by analysing the browsing pattern of a user and the documents he or she can have access, when creating a GOOGLE account during the configuration of a mobile equipment using Android".

Complaints against Google were filed in May 2018 by two privacy rights groups: None Of Your Business (Noyb) and La Quadrature du Net (LQDN). "It is important that the authorities make it clear that simply claiming to be complaint is not enough". However, the GDPR provides that the consent is "specific" only if it is given distinctly for each goal.

The CNIL said the fine, the biggest handed out for a data protection violation and the French agency's first penalty under GDPR, are "justified by the severity of the infringements". The GDPR is the world's first major attempt to regulate large tech firms like Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc., and is forcing those companies to critically examine their own policies and procedures when it comes to data collection.

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