Google Runs Afoul of Dutch Regulators

Less than a week after shutting down its news service operations in Spain due to what it said were unsustainable fee requirements, Google has been hit with a fine from another European agency. This time, it's a Dutch privacy watchdog levying a penalty payment of up to 15 million euros ($18.6 million) for failure to live up to the countryEUs privacy requirements.

The Dutch Data Protection Authority (Dutch DPA) said that the infringements against the NetherlandsEU privacy law stems from changes that Google made to its privacy policy in 2012. The agency has requested that the global search company make several changes to its privacy policy if it wants to avoid the charge.

An Invisible Web

At the heart of the Dutch DPAEUs complaint is its assertion that Google routinely combines information on users from a variety of sources to create behavioral profiles that it uses to target ads.

Google might combine information about terms that a user searched for, along with cookies from third-party Web sites that serve Google cookies, location data from its Google Maps mobile app, videos watched on YouTube, and information contained in personal e-mails, according to the watchdog. Users may not even be logged into their Google accounts, and may therefore be unaware how closely the company is tracking them.

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

Unambiguous Consent

The Dutch DPA is asking Google to make three changes to its privacy policy. First, it wants Google to get unambiguous consent from its users regarding combining personal data from different Google services. That might require Google to explain its practice...

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