Spain Joins France In Legal Threat Against Google

The French National Commission on Computing and Freedom (CNIL) has given Google 3 months to add more transparency to the data they are collecting from European users or face privacy fines.  Still reeling from recent backlash about handing over consumer data to the US government, Google now faces added pressure from European countries concerned about the exact nature of Google’s collection and use of personal data.  According to CNIL, Spain has thrown their support behind the French agency with Great Britain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands to get onboard in the coming weeks. Spain joins France in legal threat against Google

This is not the first time the French have picked a fight with the search giant.  Last year, France’s CNIL led a European-wide inquiry into Google’s new simplified privacy policy launched in March 2012.  The beef last year was that Google was gathering too much user data and storing it for too long without a specific purpose.  European privacy laws are stricter than their American counterparts when it comes to the opt-out requirements companies must adhere too.  French law, in particular, states that you must have a precise reason for collecting information about someone and proposed laws could allow users the “right to be forgotten” and request to be removed from the site completely.

Today, just like last year, Google maintains that their privacy policy is in accordance with European laws. “We have engaged fully with the authorities involved throughout this process, and we’ll continue to do so going forward,” says Google spokesman Al Verney.

While the monetary penalties Google may be fined if found in violation of the French law (up to €300k) are laughable to a tech behemoth that just announced Q1 2013 revenues of $14 billion, losing the trust of consumers in Europe alludes to a much scarier scenario.  With the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in Great Britain announcing their investigation into Google’s compliance with UK law, it would be wise for Google to address these concerns head on and perhaps even offer their resources and knowledge to help European legislators revise their outdated data protection laws.  This type of transparency, goodwill and collaboration could go a long way in building sustainable, long-term rapport with one of Google’s most vital international markets.

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