Google has kicked off 2019 by getting hit with yet another multimillion-dollar fine from a European regulator.
Stemming from an investigation that began in May — the day after Europe’s strict new data privacy rules known as GDPR went into effect — France’s data protection authority has announced a $57 million fine against Google in the first such GDPR penalty levied against a US technology company. In a statement explaining the action, the French agency known as the CNIL noted that the fine is a result of deficiencies that include Google not being clear enough about the way user data is handled to present personalized ads.
The CNIL’s statement goes on to note that “the infringements observed deprive the users of essential guarantees regarding processing operations that can reveal important parts of their private life since they are based on a huge amount of data, a wide variety of services and almost unlimited possible combinations.” The penalty is also connected to the way the French agency sees Google as not being clear enough in a broad sense about how user data is collected and how it’s subsequently used.
Google released a statement saying it hasn’t decided yet whether to appeal this punishment, which certainly didn’t come as a surprise. Once the General Data Protection Regulation, known as GDPR for short, went into effect in Europe last year, it was regarded as only a matter of time before regulators there would use the stricter privacy framework to push back on tech giants in a way that’s not happening in the US.
The CNIL statement goes on to provide context for the fine against Google by noting that “This is the first time that the CNIL applies the new sanction limits provided by the GDPR. The amount decided, and the publicity of the fine, are justified by the severity of the infringements observed regarding the essential principles of the GDPR — transparency, information and consent.”
Google, for its part, acknowledged that “high standards” of transparency and control are expected of the company by the public and that Google is “committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR.” The new fine, however, is yet another example of European-led pushback against the search giant, which has also come under fire from EU officials over antitrust concerns.
Along those lines, the EU hit Google with a record-setting $5 billion fine last year for antitrust issues related to its Android mobile operating system.