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Google Fined $1.2 million For Violating Data Protection Law

Google Fined $1.2 million For Violating Data Protection Law
December 23, 2013

Google is in a bit of hot water after it was fined by a Spanish privacy watchdog on Dec. 19. The fine stemmed from the search engine breaking the country's data protection laws regarding collecting personal information from consumers and failing to inform consumers the purpose of the collection.

The fine, which totals $1.2 million, is a "modest" fine for the California-based company, Reuters reported. Although the fine may be modest, it aims to prohibit Google from collecting consumer personal information that is used in a variety of cloud storage services without notifying consumers as to the purpose of each collection and service.

Acquiring Information Through Cloud Services
A cloud service storage system involves storing data on various virtual servers, which may limit a person's control over their information. In a statement, The Spanish Agency for Data Protection said Google has collected consumer information at an alarming pace from its citizens.

"Inspections have shown that Google compiles personal information through close to one hundred services and products it offers in Spain, without providing in many cases the adequate information about the data that is being gathered, why it is gathered and without obtaining the consent of the owners," the Spanish Agency for Data Protection said in a statement.

The inquiry began in March 2012 when Google altered some of its privacy policies and started collecting data after consumers used any number of Google sites, Reuters reported. Spain and five other European countries began investigating the search engine's practices when they were not properly notified as to why the information was being used for marketing purposes, when the data collection began, and for how long Google was keeping and storing the data.

Similar Instance In November
This is not the first time Google has gotten in trouble for collecting consumer information. Back in November in the U.S., the company paid a $17 million fine to 37 states to settle allegations it secretly tracked consumer web activity secretly, Bloomberg reported. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman stated that Google violated more than privacy laws. 

"Consumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the web with them," Schneiderman said in a statement. "By tracking millions of people without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but also their trust."

Google said it will work with European authorities to help with the investigation and explain any language in the Google privacy policies that the European authorities may be confused about, Reuters reported..

Walter Boyd is senior privacy advisor at CyberScout Consulting.

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