Google faces fine by French regulator over privacy policy

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 September, 2013, 4:10am

Google faces a fine for failing to make changes to its privacy policies sought by French regulators.

Google informed France's data-privacy regulator that it contested findings that its policies weren't in compliance with national rules, the country's data protection watchdog known as CNIL said yesterday. In June, the regulator gave Google a three-month deadline to comply with the requested modifications.

Google faces probes across Europe over changes to harmonise privacy policies for more than 60 products last year. Global data-protection regulators in June wrote to the California-based company urging Chief Executive Officer Larry Page to contact them about possible issues with its web-enabled eyeglasses, called Google Glass.

The data regulator will now appoint someone to start a formal sanctions procedure, CNIL said.

"Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services," Al Verney, a Brussels-based spokesman for Google, said. "We've engaged fully with CNIL throughout this process and will continue to do so going forward."

CNIL can levy a maximum fine of €150,000 (HK$1.6 million) and €300,000 in case of a repeated offence, Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, chairwoman of the French authority, said in June. Other regulators may impose sanctions of up to €1 million, potentially exposing Google to "several million euros" of fines on top of damaging its image, she said.

The French data protection watchdog had ordered the company to spell out for users why it collects information.

Six European privacy regulators started "co-ordinated" enforcement actions in April over the company's failure to address complaints about its new privacy policy. A spokesman for the UK Information Commissioner's Office said it was still reviewing Google's response.