Spanish slap Google with £751k fine over privacy policy

Privacy pros not convinced fines will stop Google collecting data illegally.

Spanish authorities have handed Google a fine of 900 million (751,000) for data protection offences surrounding its privacy policy.

After the Internet giant merged the privacy policies of its various products into one document in March 2012, and allowed customer data from one service to be shared with others, data protection regulators looked into the legality of Google's actions.

The Spanish regulator has now determined Google was guilty of three separate offences, each worth 300,000 each. It said the company "collects and processes personal information illegally", even of "passive users" who have not explicitly signed up for Google services.

Google has also failed to adequately explain what data it handles, how it is used and often did not acquire consent from users, the data protection body said.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

"Google uses sophisticated technology that exceeds the ability of most users to make conscious decisions about the use of their personal information so that , in practice , they lose control over it," the judgement read.

The Internet firm said it had cooperated with the Spanish authorities and would take action once it had more information.

Other nations are also considering fining Google over the privacy policy. The UK authority, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), told IT Pro its investigations were still ongoing and that a formal decision was likely to be made early next year.

Many are still wondering whether data protection authorities are going to make an impact on Google's actions, given the massive size of the company and the relatively small fines being handed out.

"You have to ask if a fine of 751,000 is going to make much difference to a business of Google's size. If companies are found to have broken the law, the sanctions must be sufficient enough to deter others from ignoring our privacy, otherwise these fines become a cost of doing business, rather than a meaningful protection for our privacy," director of the Big Brother Watch told IT Pro.

"With a full investigation still pending into Google's privacy policy, it is far from clear that this has been settled and the focus should be ensuring that the penalties hand down actually have an impact, both in terms of restoring people's privacy and ensuring it is not possible to profit from illegal data collection."

Featured Resources

How inkjet can transform your business

Get more out of your business by investing in the right printing technology

Download now

Journey to a modern workplace with Office 365: which tools and when?

A guide to how Office 365 builds a modern workplace

Download now

Modernise and transform your sales organisation

Learn how a modernised sales process can drive your business

Download now

Your guide to managing cloud transformation risk

Realise the benefits. Mitigate the risks

Download now



Google Nest Wifi review: A solid improvement, but not for long

14 Feb 2020
unified communications (UC)

Google developing all in one messaging app for business

29 Jan 2020
cloud computing

Google adds partners to real-time translation tools

8 Jan 2020

The IT Pro Products of the Year 2019: All the year’s best hardware

24 Dec 2019

Most Popular

cloud computing

Google Cloud snaps up multi-cloud analytics platform for $2.6bn

13 Feb 2020

How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi

5 Feb 2020
operating systems

How to fix a stuck Windows 10 update

12 Feb 2020
Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is a testament to Satya Nadella’s strategic nouse

14 Feb 2020