French data protection watchdog levies record fine on Google for breach of GDPR laws

The CNIL’s decision is likely to send a shiver down the spine of the tech industry who are yet to comply with the EU’s tough GDPR laws.

In a development that has gone down in the pages of history as one of the biggest levies, to date, attached by France’s data protection watchdog on Google for non-compliance to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the French regulator has fined Alphabet’s Google $57 million (50 million euros).

The French regulator stated, Google, the world’s biggest search engine, lacked transparency and clarity in the way it informs users about its handling of personal data and failed to properly obtain their consent for personalized ads.

The development comes in the wake of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect from May 2018. The GDPR is the biggest shake-up of data privacy laws in more than two decades. The GDPR allows users to better control their personal data and gives regulators the power to impose fines of up to 4% of their global revenue for non-compliance.

“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,” said French regulator CNIL in a statement.

In a statement Google said, people “expect high standards of transparency and control from us” and that “We’re deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR”.

Google is now examining its next steps.

The CNIL’s decision follows complaints by two non-governmental organizations, La Quadrature du Net (LQDN) and None Of Your Business (noyb).

The CNIL, known for its strict interpretation of privacy rules, set a new record with its penalty which is likely to send a shiver down the spine of many tech companies.

“More than just a significant amount of money, this sanction is particularly detrimental to Google as it directly challenges its business model and will, in all likelihood, require them to deeply modify their provision of services,” said Sonia Cissé, Managing Associate at Linklaters.

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