Why Was Google Fined? What Privacy Rules Did It Break?
The fine was applied for a decision Google made back in 2012 to combine all the privacy policies of its 60+ services into only one (including the policies of the well-known Google Docs, Youtube, Google Gmail and many others). This has immediately lead to an investigation by the Comission Nationale de L’Informatique Et Libertes, which concluded that Google did not inform its users about how should they use the new services – at the same time, Google failed to comply with the current rules and regulations regarding cookies, as the French law clearly states that users must be asked for permissions to have cookies installed on their computers. As CNIL claimed, Google has collected and combined the user data without any legal basis, and this is what lead to the consistent fine mentioned above.
As a statement released by CNIL reveals, this $204,000 fine is the highest one the institution has issued so far, and the reason why it is so high is because of the gravity of the problem. Even so, this is still a relatively small fine given the yearly net profit of Google that often exceeds $10 billion. Different countries have different maximum fines that they can impose on Google, the maximum one being of no less than 1 million Euros and it can be issued by Spain.
A Deeper Insight Into The Matter
However, the lack of clear and concise information about cookies and the fact that it failed to request user permission before installing cookies are not the only reasons why Google was fined, as the Comission Nationale de L’Informatique et Libertes also claimed that Google failed to mention specific retention periods to the data that it processes and stores.
Nonetheless, it is believed that even though Google should have no problem paying the hefty sum of money, the court rulings of all the European countries above (if their investigations reach the same result as the CNIL investigation) can actually impact the selling of marketing and advertising services to large companies and organizations, and this is exactly what can wreak havoc on Google’s profits in the long haul. Until now this is nothing but a speculation, as the other countries have issued no fine or warning until now.
Google is not the only American business to currently be examined by various European investigators, as the well-known giants Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and the iPhone manufacturer Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) are targeted as well, especially for their online profits and digital privacy terms – the European review bodies want to make sure that these two pay enough corporate tax, and not only.
It is a known fact that the European laws regarding digital privacy are very strict, and that protecting personal data in the online environment is seen as a civil right. Also, it must be said that at the moment, there isn’t any legal framework designed for levying the European-wide fines.
The French CNIL Commission has determined in June that Google has been breaching the privacy law on no less than six counts. Even so, when it was contacted for a comment on this matter, Google simply stated that the company believes that its privacy policies are fully compliant with the European laws.
The Bottom Line
To sum it all up, Google failed to post sufficient information for the French users of this search engine and on how their private browsing information will be collected, processed and stored by Google, this is what lead to the sky-high fine. In spite of the fact that Google only wanted to simplify the processes for its users and to make the programs more accessible and more comprehensive, it ended up violating the privacy laws by allowing Youtube, Gmail and other services to share user data.