EU Regulators Weigh New Google Crackdown

Privacy regulators from France and other European Union countries have proposed a coordinated crackdown before summer on Google privacy practices, escalating European efforts to reshape how global companies treat user data.

France's privacy watchdog said Monday it and an unspecified number of other European regulators want to coordinate a "repressive action" against Google, after the company had failed to give "precise and effective" answers to a warning that all 27 EU national regulators issued in October. The full group of privacy regulators, known as the Article 29 group, is scheduled to vote on the proposal at the end of February.

Led by France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés, or CNIL, the group said in October that Google's treatment of user data doesn't comply with European law. They recommended that Google implement a list of changes—such as easier opt-outs for targeted advertising—to get back in line.

Google said Monday that its policy complies with European law. "We have engaged fully with the CNIL throughout this process and will continue to do so," said a Google spokesman.
The clash over Google's privacy policy, which lets the search giant mix data between services like Gmail and YouTube, highlights how Europe's data-privacy agencies are looking to assert themselves against Web giants. Leaders of the national privacy commissions have said they hope to set a global example for the treatment of personal data, and have mounted inquiries into Google and Facebook among others.
"We're better armed when we speak with one voice than when each country takes its own steps," Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, head of the CNIL, said in an interview Monday.

Ms. Falque-Pierrotin said it was too early to say what form any coordinated enforcement action against Google might take, but she said Monday's declaration indicated that the CNIL and other regulators were ready to impose sanctions. Penalties for violating data-protection rules vary by country, with French fines reaching as high as €300,000 ($401,000) for repeat infractions.

The current fight dates back to early 2012, when Google said it would change its privacy policy for its various services—such as email and YouTube—to allow them to share data. France led an inquiry into the policy on behalf of its European colleagues, and in October said it would give Google about three to four months to make some specific changes, but stopped short of ordering a full rollback of the policy.

Google says it responded in a letter in early January with a list of some actions it had taken in response, as well as a request for a meeting to discuss other elements of its response. Ms. Falque-Pierrotin said the letter hadn't been specific about the actions Google had taken, and that the request for a meeting has been referred to the full group of EU regulators.

By Sam Schechner

0 yorum: