Internet giant Google has been told to improve privacy for its clients by France's data protection agency, CNIL, or face fines. The agency says Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain plan similar action.
France's data protection watchdog on Thursday gave Google three months to bring its practices into line with French privacy law or risk an initial fine of 150,000 euros ($201,100).
CNIL president Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin said that by the end of July, all of the six countries within the EU data protection task force - formed in April - will have begun coercive action against Google.
Policy 'simplified,' says Google
Last year, Google merged myriad privacy policies around the world into one universal procedure, saying its changes complied with European law. The change allows Google to collate data across its various online platforms, such as its search engine, email service, the Youtube video portal and others. Users cannot opt out of the cross-platform sharing as a personal preference, although by logging out of the Google service in question, they can operate it anonymously.
On Thursday, a Google spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying that Google had "engaged fully" with European authorities and would "continue to do so."
Proposed Europe-wide data protection legislation is not expected until 2015. In April, Falque-Pierrotin said national privacy regulators must ensure in the interim that consumers in each European country were not vulnerable.
Google dominates usage among European citizens when they make Internet searches for information. Regulators accuse Goggle of creating a data goldmine.
In 2011, the European Commission said 70 percent of EU citizens were concerned about the misuse of their personal data.
ipj/msh (Reuters, AP)