France hits Google with 50 million euro data consent fine

France uses new EU data law to fine Google €50 million

Stemming from an investigation that began in May - the day after Europe's strict new data privacy rules known as GDPR went into effect - France's data protection authority has announced a $57 million fine against Google in the first such GDPR penalty levied against a U.S. technology company.

The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the biggest shake-up of data privacy laws in more than two decades, came into force in May.

Even though many tech multinationals like Google are headquartered in the US, they still have to comply with the new rules because they have millions of users in Europe.

They also say that the pop-ups now used by the company to ask for consent on Android software seem to threaten that services will not be available if the users don't accept the terms.

"We therefore expect the CNIL to respond quickly to the rest of our complaint, about Youtube, Gmail and Google Search, imposing this time a sanction of an amount proportionate to this company and the extent and the duration of the violation of our rights", the group said in a statement Monday.

Max Schrems and his None Of Your Business (NOYB) non-profit had been first off the blocks, complaining against Google and Facebook minutes after the GDPR took effect on May 25th.

"The relevant information is accessible after several steps only, implying sometimes up to 5 or 6 actions", the regulator said.

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Additionally, the regulator said Google had failed to obtain a valid legal basis to process user data.

'We're studying the decision to determine our next steps'. At present, there is no reliable information available on how long the company saves user data, nor if they allow it to be used by other sites.

Google parent Alphabet recorded $110.8 billion in revenues for 2017, meaning CNIL could have theoretically hit the company with a fine of nearly €4 billion. We're deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR, ' a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

Essential information, such as the data processing purposes, the data storage periods or the categories of personal data used for the ads personalization, are excessively disseminated across several documents, with buttons and links on which it is required to click to access complementary information.

The agency acknowledged that a user can make some modifications to their account once they have created it - but said "this does not mean that the GDPR is respected".

The French watchdog said it set the fine at €50 million in light of the severity of the infringement.

French regulators began investigating Google on May 25 - the day GDPR went into effect - in response to concerns raised by two groups of privacy activists.

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