Did Google Violate Dutch Privacy Laws?

An investigation into Google's services has been underway in the Netherlands for seven months and it appears as though a Dutch privacy watchdog has come to the conclusion that Google violated laws in the country.

The laws in question apply to Google's decision to share user information among its services, which may be illegal in the Netherlands. According to the watchdog, Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA), companies are only allowed to gather user information for one specific purpose, which would make sharing that data among various services illegal.

User Consent

Whether or not Google violated laws in the Netherlands comes down to if the search giant obtained users' consent to use their information among all of Google's services. If DPA is correct, not only did Google fail to obtain consent to use data throughout its services but it never even received consent to collect any data.

"Google spins an invisible web of our personal data, without consent," said DPA Chairman Jacob Kohnstamm. "That is forbidden by law."

Situations such as this one usually result in a lawsuit and Google has already taken a defensive stance, assuring the DPA that it put forth detailed information regarding how user information would be used and collected before it built user profiles.

EUOur privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services,EU said Al Verney, a Brussels-based spokesman for Google. EUWe have engaged fully with the Dutch data protection authority throughout this process and will continue to do so going forward.EU

Although Google may have respected the law when collecting data from whichever service the user initially signed up for, sharing data between Google Search and YouTube for example, would be illegal. Unless Google had its users agree to the privacy terms for each service, it may have indeed broken the law in...

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