French data protection agency: Google missed deadline to change its privacy policy

Tony Avelar/BLOOMBERG - Google Inc. signage is displayed at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Monday, April 4, 2011.

Data protection officials in France said Friday that they will impose sanctions against Google after the firm missed a three-month deadline to adjust its privacy policy in that country.

CNIL, the French data protection agency, said in June that Google could face about $200,000 in fines if it did not alter its latest privacy policy by September to clarify how it collects and uses data. That action was based on a year-long investigation by CNIL on behalf of a consortium of European data protection officials after Google changed its policy in March 2012.

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At that time, Google put 60 of its services under a unified policy that granted it the permission to combine data from products such as Gmail, YouTube or Google+ together for the first time. Data is only collected from users who are signed in to their accounts, the company says.

Consumer advocates said that the change could concern users who didn’t want information across those services connected in this way. In June, data protection officials in Spain and Britain also said Google may be subject to fines . Officials in the Netherlands, Italy and Germany said they were evaluating Google’s policies.

CNIL said in a statement that while Google did not change its policy, the company did respond to the threat of enforcement action by contesting “the applicability of French data protection law to the services used by residents in France.”

In a statement, a Google spokeswoman said, “Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services. We have engaged fully with the CNIL throughout this process, and we’ll continue to do so going forward.”

 
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