France hits Google with €50 million data consent fine


France's data privacy watchdog CNIL announced in a statement Monday that it was imposing a record sanction of 50 million euros on the US tech giant due to "lack of transparency, unsatisfactory information and lack of valid consent for the personalization of advertisement".

Google was handed the record fine from CNIL for failing to provide transparent and easily accessible information on its data consent policies, a statement said.

Despite Google's changes, the CNIL said in a statement 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 nearly unlimited possible combinations".

Together, French regulators said Google's business practices had run afoul of the General Data Protection Regulation.

In a statement, the agency slammed the Chocolate Factory for a lack of transparency, and said that users weren't able to understand the extent of Google's "massive and intrusive" data processing.

That lack of clarity meant that users were effectively unable to exercise their right to opt out of data-processing for personalisation of ads.

The commission acted on complaints by two data protection advocacy groups, NOYB.EU and La Quadrature du Net, filed immediately after GDPR took effect.

Google told ZDNet in a statement: "People expect high standards of transparency and control from us".

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The regulator said Google had not obtained clear consent to process data because "essential information" was "disseminated across several documents".

'We're studying the decision to determine our next steps'.

Under the law, it can award fines of up to €20m or 4 per cent of annual turnover - and it has wielded the new power with aplomb, handing out a €50m penalty.

The French agency accuses Google of not fully disclosing to users how their personal data is collected nor how that data is eventually used. Google also pre-ticks the boxes through which people agree to ad-personalisation.

Max Schrems, chairman of None of Your Business, said he was "very pleased" with the ruling.

According to the French government agency, known by the acronym CNIL, Google is still in breach of the law. "Large corporations such as Google simply "interpret the law differently" and have often only superficially adapted their products", he said. "It is not a one-off, time-limited, infringement".

"It is important that the authorities make it clear that simply claiming to be compliant is not enough".

The regulator said it was Google's "utmost responsibility to comply with the obligations on the matter".