EU Regulators Fine Google $189K for StreetView Data Privacy Violations

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-04-22 Print this article Print

A similar case in the United States was resolved in March when a $7 million settlement was reached between Google and the U.S. government to end a probe into the StreetView imaging program, which for three years collected personal information on users wirelessly as the StreetView vehicles drove around taking photographs, according to an earlier eWEEK report.

The $7 million fine against Google was designed to resolve investigations that were under way by some 30 state attorneys general over the controversial StreetView program.

Google's progress on developing clearer, better-known policies regarding how it will use any of the personal data belonging to its users has become a sore point with many governments around the world, which say that the search giant is not moving quickly enough to address such privacy concerns.

Earlier in April, in a related move, six European nations, including Germany, announced that the slow pace of Google's progress on privacy issues is causing them to plan their own steps to ensure improved data privacy for their citizens. That could mean hefty fines and deeper investigations into Google's actions on user privacy. The move is being eyed by a European task force being led by France's National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties (CNIL), which has been waiting since last October for a response from Google on how the search giant would make privacy improvements to protect users of its online services.

In January 2012, Google announced major changes to its data privacy policies, which folded 60 of its 70 previously separate product privacy policies under one blanket policy and broke down the identity barriers between some of its services to accommodate its then-new Google+ social network, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Google's streamlining came as regulators continued to criticize Google, Facebook and other Web service providers for offering long-winded and legally gnarled privacy protocols. The Google privacy policy changes went into effect March 1, 2012.

However, these moves haven't satisfied European authorities. Google, according to a CNIL statement, still "has not implemented any significant compliance." Involved in the case are consumer protection authorities from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. And it appears the authorities in Europe have run out of patience.

"It is now up to each national data protection authority to carry out further investigations according to the provisions of its national law transposing European legislation," said the statement.

Google could potentially be fined about $1 billion for shortcomings in its data privacy policies in Europe, according to an earlier eWEEK story.



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