France and Spain launch probe into Google's privacy law

Google logo seen on a sign at its Mountain View headquarters Google's consolidation of its policy drew criticism, but the company said it "simplifies" privacy

Related Stories

Spain has launched proceedings against Google over five suspected serious data breaches.

Meanwhile France has given the search giant three months to rethink its privacy rules.

Since last year Google has been combining data from all its sites to better target adverts, a decision which the EU has said needs a rethink.

The search giant said that its privacy practices respect European laws.

"We have engaged fully with the authorities involved through this process, and we'll continue to do so going forward," it said in a statement.

Google's new data policy allows the search giant to track users across all its platforms, including Gmail, Google+ and YouTube.

Combining 60 separate privacy policies was done to "simplify privacy", it said at the time.

But in October 2012 the EU warned Google that its data protection laws did not comply with a directive and gave the company four months to change them.

That deadline passed with no action, prompting individual countries to pursue their own cases.

The Spanish Data Protection Agency said that it had found evidence of five serious privacy law breaches.

These are:

  • Disproportionate use of private data
  • Diverting private data for other users
  • Storing private data for excessive or undetermined periods
  • Failure to handle private data in a legitimate way
  • Obstructing users in the exercise of their rights

Each of these is punishable with fines of up to 300,000 euros (£256,000).

The French National Commission on Computing and Freedom (CNIL) wants Google to specify what it is using personal data for, and how long it is held.

It also wants Google to let users opt out of having their data centralised in a single location.

Google faces a French fine of up to 300,000 euros - small fry compared with Google's first quarter revenues of $14bn.

Britain, German, Italy and the Netherlands all have ongoing investigations into Google's privacy policy.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Technology stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

BBC Future

(Science Photo Library)

Nasa’s amazing airport simulator

How to train 21st Century controllers


  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.