Google posts French confession for privacy smack

Chris Davies - Feb 9, 2014, 5:10 pm CST
Google posts French confession for privacy smack

Google France has posted its public mea-culpa message as demanded by French authorities, conceding that privacy regulators in the country have fined it €150,000 for infringements. The message, which must be left visible for at least 48 hours and printed in a minimum of 13-point font and in the Arial typeface, was part of the punishment leveled by the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), with Google’s protestations that it would cause irreparable damage to its reputation failing to convince an appeals court last week.

As well as a brief summary of the verdict and the fine – which amounts to around $200,000 – the notice also points to the CNIL ruling for further explanation.

Google fell foul of French laws when it changed its privacy policies in March 2012, arguing that a single document, rather than the several dozen it replaced, was more straightforward for users to comprehend. However, the CNIL decided that the change meant users in France were insufficiently notified of how their personal data might be treated.

Meanwhile, it also felt that users were left with tracking cookies on their computers that they may not have given explicit consent for, and that there were no clear indicators of when data would be deleted from its records. The CNIL also took issue with the fact that the new policy allowed for sharing of data across different services.

The fine was the largest issued so far, which the commission said was down to the severity of the alleged infringements.

Google has said it plans to appeal the overall CNIL decision, but conceded that it would post the notice as demanded. Doing so – and losing its appeal against the notice – does not prejudice the potential for the CNIL’s original ruling to be overturned, though Google’s lawyers have warned that it could take as much as six months before the process is complete.

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