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Spain watchdog fines Google for privacy `violations`

Last Updated: Friday, December 20, 2013 - 09:43

Madrid: Spain`s data protection watchdog ordered US Internet giant Google to pay a 900,000-euro fine for "serious violations" of users` privacy.

The Spanish Data Protection Agency yesterday accused the popular search provider of "illegal processing of personal data" obtained from users of various services such as Google email accounts.

Google`s privacy policy enables it to track the activity of users across its search engine, Gmail, the Google+ social networking platform and other services it owns, which include YouTube.

"Google unlawfully collects and processes personal information" of users, the Spanish agency said in a statement.

"The agency considers that Google seriously violates the right to the protection of personal data."

It ordered Google to pay USD 410,000 for each of three breaches of Spain`s data protection law and ordered it to bring its privacy policy in line with legal norms.

The agency said Google`s privacy policy did not clearly inform users of how it uses the data collected, for example information from emails that is gathered to generate targeted advertising.

It also accused Google of keeping the data for longer than is legally justified and of making it difficult for users to query the use of their data.

Google has repeatedly stated that its privacy policy respects European law, despite investigations in several countries.

Google spokespeople could not immediately be reached to comment to AFP yesterday but El Pais newspaper quoted the company as saying it had been "totally involved" in the agency`s investigations.

It would "read the report carefully and then decide what steps to take next", the newspaper quoted Google as saying.

The Spanish authority launched proceedings against Google in June. In September, France too said it would take action against the company, accusing it of breaching privacy norms.

Authorities in Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Britain have also opened parallel procedures against Google.

The Spanish agency said it was the first of these six authorities to make a final decision on action against the US giant.

The European Union warned Google in October 2012 that its new data protection procedures did not comply with an EU directive on the subject and gave the company four months to change them.

First Published: Friday, December 20, 2013 - 09:43
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