The search engine giant could face a huge fine from France’s data protection watchdog if it doesn’t amend its privacy policies.
Spain has started a “sanction procedure” against Google and the UK, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands are also planning to take action.
The French data protection watchdog, The Commission Nationale de L’Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL), is joining up with other European companies in an attempt to pressure Google to improve consumer privacy protection.
The CNIL has already issued Google with a formal notice warning that it will face a fine up to €150,000 (£128,000) if it doesn’t change its policies within three months. If it continues to ignore the warnings it will face an additional fine of €300,000 (£256,000).
It expects Google to give users “defined and explicit purposes” for the retention of their personal data, which includes people’s names, photographs, phone numbers and what device they are using.
Google will also have to outline “definite retention periods” for the collected data, and shouldn’t be allowed to continue with the “potentially unlimited combination of users’ data” that allows Google to build a complete picture of named individually.
“This case is a significant test of how strong the laws are to protect our privacy in an internet age,” said director of the Big Brother Watch privacy campaign. “Fines totalling a few million dollars will hardly trouble a multi-billion dollar empire and it’s essential that action does force the company to respect our privacy and put users’ rights before the demands of its advertising customers.”
Next, read Google Glass the privacy problem – and how to solve it.