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France has warned Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) to be more honest in collecting data from users else it would be fined. Now the search engine giant will have to decide whether it wants to make alterations in its privacy rules. Google is facing a possible penalty of €300,000 euro ($402,180) in France.
Google has no competition in Europe, and Google’s privacy policies are not very strict when it comes to safeguarding privacy. The legal action taken on Thursday will put more strain on Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), which is trying to ward off the denigration which it is facing for supplying the U.S. government with customer data to protect the country from foreign terrorists.
The Information Commissioner’s office in Britain said that an investigation regarding Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is in the process and soon the findings will be released.
Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner, suggested that the maximum fine for privacy issues should be hiked from €600,000 to 2 percent of a company’s worldwide sales.
Other Countries to Follow
Apart from France, five other countries in Europe will follow similar steps, according to a French agency that controls the information technology. Actions may be taken by these five countries from now to July. The agency said that Google did not pay any attention to the advice that European regulators suggested.
According to the French National Commission on Computing and Freedom, CNIL, Spain and France were the first countries to take legal action on Thursday. In the next round Britain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands will take action.
More Eyes on the NSA Case
The actions on Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) have been increased since it was named as one of nine U.S. internet companies which delivered information about its users and granted National Security Agency access to data on its users. The National Security Agency gathered the information to weather any potential foreign threat to the United States. The program is known as PRISM and was first brought into light by a former NSA contractor.
Friction Between Europe & U.S.
Europe has been combating against Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) over privacy issues for some time, and the legal action taken is a step forward in that direction. User privacy is a more serious issue in various European countries compared to the United States, which is Google’s native soil.
The legal actions taken or proposed may have an adverse impact on trans-Atlantic trade negotiations announced by President Barack Obama.
European officials and politicians are demanding that data protection should be the most important issue in the trade talks. However, the U.S. Ambassador disagreed that privacy issues should be the heart of trade talks.