How breaking GDPR rules landed Google with £44m fine

French data protection regulator began investigating the US company following tip-off from privacy activists

(Image credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Google has been handed a record €50m (£44m) fine in France for breaching the European Union’s data protection laws.

French data regulator CNIL (Commission Nationale de l’informatique et des Libertes) said the internet search giant had not “sufficiently” informed users about how their information was being used, the BBC reports.

The French regulator added that the company had displayed a “lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding ads personalisation”, in violation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws.

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Google breached two specific conditions of the rules, says Ars Technica.

For starters, the company did not make its data collection policies “easily accessible” for its users. It also failed to obtain “sufficient and specific user consent” for personalised adverts across all of its services, including YouTube, the tech news site says.

Under GDPR laws, firms are required to gain a user’s “genuine consent” prior to collecting their data, notes The Verge. This mean users must be offered an opt-in process that they can easily accept or reject.

According to The Washington Post, French regulators began investigating Google last May after two privacy activist groups raised concerns about the company’s practices.

Responding to the penalty, a Google spokesperson said the company was in the process of “studying the decision to determine our next steps”.

“People expect high standards of transparency and control from us. We’re deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR”, the spokesperson added.

The penalty is “by far” the largest of its kind since the EU’s GDPR laws came into force on 25 May 2018, says tech news site ZDNet.

The previous record was held by a Portuguese hospital, which was fined €400,000 (£352,000) in July for exposing patient data to unauthorised staff members.

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