Economy

Google fined record £44m by French data protection watchdog

Google fined record £44m by French data protection watchdog

France's data protection watchdog fined Alphabet's Google 50 million euros ($57 million) on Monday for breaching European Union online privacy rules, the biggest such penalty levied against a USA tech giant.

The commission said Google users were "not sufficiently informed" about what they were agreeing to as the company collected data for targeted advertisements.

The CNIL concluded that Google had breached the General Data Protection Regulation in two ways: by failing to meet transparency and information requirements, and failing to obtain a legal basis for processing.

In a statement, Google said it was "studying the decision" to determine its next steps.

"It is important that the authorities make it clear that simply claiming to be compliant is not enough".

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

"Following the introduction of GDPR, we have found that large corporations such as Google simply "interpret the law differently" and have often only superficially adapted their products".

Google told ZDNet in a statement: "People expect high standards of transparency and control from us".

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It said the record 50-million-euro fine reflected the seriousness of the failings as well as Google's dominant market position in France via Android.

Although most major tech organizations - including Google - made sweeping changes previous year in response to the passage of the GDPR rules, the CNIL says that Google hasn't done enough.

The commission also found that Google hadn't presented the information in a clear and comprehensive manner, saying the company's descriptions are "too generic and vague". Now that the new, EU-wide law is in place, the maximum is €20 million or 4% of global annual revenues.

"The relevant information is accessible after several steps only, implying sometimes up to 5 or 6 actions", the regulator said.

It said the option to personalise ads was "pre-ticked" when creating an account, which did not respect the GDPR rules.

Last September, Brave Browser filed a GDPR complaint against Google in Britain and Ireland, alleging that the search giant's use of "real-time bidding" to allow companies to purchase personalized ads exposes more user data than is allowed under the regulations, such as ethnicity, sexuality, and political views.

Full details about what Google does with users' personal information are "excessively disseminated across several documents", according to the CNIL.


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