EU chief: ‘Hit Google where it hurts’

Google will never change its ways unless it is hit where it hurts – in the bank balance – says EU justice minister Viviane Reding, who claims that the only way the fines will be effective is by passing the EU data reforms.
Reding, who was speaking at the Digital Life Design conference in Munich, said the latest financial penalties for Google – a €150,000 fine in France and a €900,000 fine in Spain – were just “pocket money” to the company.
“The fine in France represents just 0.0003% of its global turnover,” she said adding that it was hardly a surprise that even two years after the case emerged Google has still not changed its privacy policy.”Europeans need to get serious. If a company has broken the rules and failed to mend its ways, this should have serious consequences.”
Under the proposed EU General Data Protection companies could be forced to pay up to 2% of global annual turnover for breaking the law. In the Google case, that would have meant a fine of €731m.
Google remains under investigation by authorities in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.
The move comes as Google faces being sued in the High Court, after three individuals won the right to have their case heard in the UK.
Freelance journalist Judith Vidal-Hall and IT security company directors Robert Hann and Marc Bradshaw claim the company breached data laws by clandestinely collecting and using their browsing information to serve them advertising.
The case centres on the period between summer 2011 and spring 2012, during which Google is accused of circumventing privacy settings on the Apple Safari browser to track and use users’ personal information.
Google has admitted to the tracking activity in settlements in the US but has never admitted that the activity was unlawful. Late last year the company tried to get the case thrown out by claiming it was not serious enough to fall under British jurisdiction.

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