Dutch authority to Google: change privacy policy or else

Google has to change its ways or start paying hefty penalties, the Dutch privacy regulator said

If Google doesn't change how it handles users' private data by the end of February, it may face fines of €15 million (about US$18.6 million), the Dutch Privacy Authority said Monday.

Google's current privacy policy breaches several provisions of the Dutch data protection act, the regulator found in an investigation in 2013. In particular, the probe showed that Google breaches the law when it combines data from different services like search queries, location data and videos watched.

"Google catches us in an invisible web of our personal data without telling us and without asking us for our consent. This has been ongoing since 2012 and we hope our patience will no longer be tested," said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch DPA.

By the end of February, Google should get "unambiguous consent" from its users before it combines personal data from different Google services to serve targeted ads, the DPA said. This could for instance be achieved by introducing a separate consent window.

Moreover, Google should also give clear and consistent information in its privacy policy to people who use several Google services.

Google's privacy policy has been under fire in the European Union since an updated was presented to users in 2012. Data protection authorities in France, the U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands launched formal investigationsy in 2013 after the company repeatedly rejected requests to reverse its changes.

Google recently sent a letter to the six DPAs, announcing a number of measures to comply with EU privacy laws. The Dutch DPA "has not yet established whether the proposed measures will end all the violations," it said.

"We're disappointed with the Dutch DPA's order, especially as we have already made a number of changes to our privacy policy in response to their concerns," a Google spokesman said, adding that Google will soon discuss the proposals with the European DPAs.

Google was already fined €150,000 by French privacy authority CNIL in January. That fine followed a €900,000 fine from the Spanish data protection authority last December.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacyGooglelegalCollege Bescherming Persoonsgegevens

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Brother MFC-L3745CDW Colour Laser Multifunction

Learn more >

Mobile

Exec

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?