Google hit by Spanish privacy fine

Google logoThe changes Google made to its privacy policy triggered investigations by European data protection watchdogs

Google has been fined 900,000 euros (£751,000) for breaking Spanish data protection laws.

The fine is the maximum it is possible to levy on a firm that has broken the nation’s privacy laws.

It was imposed after Google changed its privacy policy and started combining personal information across its online services.

Google said it had co-operated with the Spanish inquiry and would act once it had seen the agency’s full report.

Biggest fine

Google changed its privacy policy in March 2012 and began the process of combining the data that people surrendered when they used its many services.

The change led many European data protection authorities to look into Google’s privacy policy. The investigation carried out by Spain’s privacy watchdog has now led to it imposing a fine – the maximum possible under Spanish law.

Google collected information across almost 100 services, said the Spanish data protection agency, but had not obtained the consent of people to gather information nor done enough to explain what would be done with the data.

The “highly ambiguous” language Google employed on its privacy policy pages made it hard for people to find out what would happen to their data, said the agency in a statement. Google also kept data for too long and made it far too hard for people to delete data or manage the information they surrendered.

The 900,000 euro fine is made up of three separate penalties of 300,000 euros each for breaking different parts of Spanish privacy laws.

Google said it had worked closely with the Spanish data agency during its investigation and said it would await publication of the full report before taking any action.

The search giant could also face further action from other European data protection bodies. In late November, the Netherlands data protection authority said Google’s 2012 policy change also broke its laws. France is also believed to be contemplating levying a fine over Google’s data handling policies.

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