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France threatens to fine Google over privacy concerns

Warning gives Google three months to change the way it handles users private data, or face a fine of up to 300,000 Euros in France alone.

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A visitor passes the Google logo on September 26, 2012 at the official opening party of the Google offices in Berlin, Germany. (Adam Berry/AFP/Getty Images)

France's national data protection watchdog has demanded that Google change the way it handle private user data in three months or face heavy fines, joining a movement across Europe that seeks to change the way the massive Internet company does business. 

France's Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties (CNIL) says Google's privacy policies violate French law, and the company must rectify the problems or face fines of up to 150,000 Euros, with a second possible fine of 300,000 Euros with non-compliance. 

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In a statement, the CNIL said that it has joined with  Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain to begin legal procedures against Google and its privacy policies. 

"By the end of July, all the authorities within the (EU data protection) task force will have taken coercive action against Google," said CNIL President Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, according to Reuters.

Europe is concerned about Google's choices to consolidate more than 60 privacy policies across a variety of its services into a single entity.

France wants Google to state "defined and explicit purposes" for gathering user data, according to the Guardian, as well as "definite retention periods" for the data that the company does collect. 

Google continues to defend itself, both against allegations that it fed data to US governmet surveillance programs and against the European privacy claims. 

“Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services,” Al Verney, a spokesman for Google in Brussels, said to Bloomberg. “We have engaged fully with the data protection authorities involved throughout this process and will continue to do so going forward.”
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/france/130620/france-threatens-fine-google-over-privacy-concerns