Google Faces $18.7M Fine in Netherlands for Privacy Violations

Google faces more huge fines for failing to update its privacy policy in Europe, and this time it’s the Dutch whose noses are out of joint.

The Web giant has been given until the end of February to modify the privacy policy, which the Dutch data watchdog believes falls short of the need to offer “unambiguous consent.”

The regulator is insisting that users be given “clear and consistent information” about the way their personal information is used, reports Bloomberg.

“Google catches us in an invisible web of our personal data without telling us and without asking us for our consent,” said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA).

“This has been ongoing since 2012 and we hope our patience will no longer be tested.”

Failure to comply could result in fines of up to €15 million (around $18.7 million). This comes on top of penalties awarded by authorities in Spain of €900,000 and France of €150,000 for flouting the same laws.

The problems came about after Google created a new single privacy policy in 2012 covering 60 of its products.

The change included a number of ambiguities that authorities found unacceptable, but Google has thus far failed to make the requested changes.

“We’re disappointed with the Dutch DPA’s order, especially as we’ve already made a number of changes to our privacy policy in response to their concerns,” said Al Verney, a Brussels-based Google spokesperson.

He added that a number of counter-proposals have been presented to the countries that are unhappy with the current arrangements, and that Google hopes to engage in dialogue with the countries in the near future.

Altogether, six European states have questioned the way in which Google uses the data it collects, particularly with regard to how it is used to serve tailored advertising, and whether this use is made inherently clear to the end user.

This article was originally published on the Inquirer.

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