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France fines Google €50 million using EU's transparency and consent law

France fines Google €50 million using EU's transparency and consent law

In a statement, the agency slammed the Chocolate Factory for a lack of transparency, and said that users weren't able to understand the extent of Google's "massive and intrusive" data processing.

According to CNIL, the regulator chose to levy a record fine against the tech giant for "lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding ads personalisation".

Together, French regulators said Google's business practices had run afoul of the General Data Protection Regulation.

Two advocacy groups, None Of Your Business (NOYB) and La Quadrature du Net (LQDN), filed group complaints with the CNIL in May 2018.

It's one of the biggest regulatory enforcement actions since the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, came into force in May.

"The relevant information is accessible after several steps only, implying sometimes up to 5 or 6 actions", CNIL said. These organizations accused Google of lacking the legal basis for collecting and processing user data in connection with their ad personalization system.

The €50 million ($57 million) fine on the U.S. company whose revenues for 2017 were $109.65 billion was due to a lack of transparency and clarity in the way it informs users about its handling of personal data.

Google said in a statement it's "deeply committed" to transparency and user control as well GDPR consent requirements and is deciding "our next steps". They were described in a too generic and vague manner.

Modifying a user's data preferences also requires clicking through a variety of pages such as "More Options", and often the choices to accept Google's terms are pre-checked by default.

However, the restricted committee said that the consent is not validly obtained as the personal data clauses are spread over several documents and do not enable the user to get a clear picture of what they are agreeing to.

In a statement, the regulator said Google's practices obscured how its services "can reveal important parts of their private life since they are based on a huge amount of data, a wide variety of services and nearly unlimited possible combinations".

All this led the regulators to reject the company's claim that they obtained the user's consent for their ad personalization services.

Following discussion with other European data protection organisations, CNIL was declared competent to investigate the matter and began inspecting Google's services in September.

"This is the first time that the CNIL applies the new sanction limits provided by the GDPR", the French regulator concluded. This, CNIL points out, means the user does not give specific consent for different uses of their data as required by the GDPR. For that reason, the fine actually targeted Google LLC, in the US. The companies must make it easy for users to opt out of the data collection programs.

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