The effort comes as Google faces several inquiries from European regulators about its consumer and business practices, and amid questions about its participation in the PRISM surveillance program operated by the U.S. government.
That announcement followed a separate action from the French agency CNIL, which conducted a year-long investigation into whether Google adequately notifies its users about the amount of data it collects, how it uses that information and how long it stores the data. The agency also said that it would fine Google about $200,000 if it does not modify its policy within three months to include those disclosures. Officials asked the search engine giant to set reasonable limits for storage and get users’ permission to store “cookies” — bits of code used for tracking consumers’ Internet habits — on their devices.
In its Thursday notice to the company, CNIL said that data-protection authorities from other countries — including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Britain — may pursue their own enforcement actions against Google.
The firm is already facing questions from the European Union’s antitrust regulators — who recently issued a preliminary ruling saying Google may have abused its dominance over the search industry — about whether it may have violated competition rules as part of deals it made through its Android mobile operating system. Ten global privacy regulators have also asked the company to provide more information on how it will deal with the privacy concerns surrounding its wearable computing headset, Google Glass.
The actions of the smaller data-protection agencies may put pressure on antitrust regulators to inflict a larger fine on Google, said Jeff Gould, president of the industry consortium SafeGov.org.
“Europeans are putting their foot down,” Gould said. “You see they’re now standing up for Europe’s right to have its own laws applied in its own territories.”
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