Google faces a fine of up to €15m from the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) for breaching the nation’s data protection act.
The violation stems from the privacy policies Google introduced in 2012, which are still causing headaches for the firm. It has also faced fines in France and Spain, although for amounts far lower than the one threatened by the Dutch authority.
The Dutch DPA said that the way in which Google collects and collates data from users of its various products – such as search, Gmail and YouTube – is not done with adequate user consent or clarity.
Consent is currently achieved via the general privacy terms and conditions when someone signs up for Google’s services.
The Dutch DPA said that this is not suitable as it does not make clear the way in which different services gather different data that is then collated and used to present adverts.
The regulator wants Google to change this so that it obtains "unambiguous consent" from its users, and to clarify its privacy policies about how personal data is used by different Google services.
Google has been given until the end of February to make the changes, at which point the Dutch DPA will assess the situation. If it is not satisfied, a fine of up to €15m could be issued.
Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch DPA, urged Google to take its report seriously.
"Google catches us in an invisible web of our personal data without telling us and without asking us for our consent. This has been ongoing since 2012 and we hope our patience will no longer be tested," he said.
Google voiced its disappointment with the notification, claiming that it has already made changes to its policies in light of the concerns raised. However, it hopes that further potential changes will appease the regulator.
"We’ve recently shared some proposals for further changes with the European privacy regulators group and we look forward to discussing with them soon," the firm said in a statement.
The UK's data protection authority, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), is also currently investigating Google over its privacy policies.
A report on its investigation is expected at some point in the new year, possibly as early as January.
However, while the ICO is able to fine firms as much as £500,000 for breaching the Data Protection Act, it is unlikely that Google is too concerned by the report. The risk of a €15m fine from the Dutch DPA may prove more effective.
Allen died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Stanford researchers made the discovery via data from Greenland
Created via a thin, flexible, and transparent hierarchical nanocomposite film
Rolls Royce will use AI powered by Intel's Xeon Gold processors and SSDs for memory