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Google faces 15m fines over privacy breaches in Netherlands

Chris Johnston

Tuesday 16 December 2014

13.49 GMT

The search giant has been ordered to change the way it collects data from users that is then used to target
advertising, or face a significant fine

Google is building a vast new data warehouse in Eemshaven, The Netherlands. Photograph: Vincent
Dutch authorities could fine Google as much as 12m (15m) for online privacy breaches.
The search company is failing to abide by the data protection act in the Netherlands by taking users private
information such as browsing history and location data to target them with customised ads, according to the
countrys Data Protection Authority (DPA).
The Dutch regulator has given Google until the end of February to change how it handles the data it collects from
individual web users.
Google has also been under investigation in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain for its handling of user data
since introducing new company guidelines two years ago.
Jacob Kohnstamm, DPA chairman, said: This has been ongoing since 2012 and we hope our patience will no
longer be tested.

An invisible web of our personal information

Google captures data from search engine queries, emails, third-party websites tracking or cookies, location data
and YouTube browsing to customise advertising.

This combining occurs without Google adequately informing the users in advance and without the company
asking for consent. This is in breach of the law, the DPA said.
Kohnstamm said Googles practices catch us in an invisible web of our personal information, without telling us or
asking our permission.
The authority ordered the company to start informing users of its actions and seeking their consent or face fines of
up to 15m (12m).
A spokesman said that Google was disappointed with the Dutch DPAs order because it had already made several
changes to its privacy policy in response to the regulators concerns.
However, weve recently shared some proposals for further changes with the group of European data protection
authorities and we look forward to discussing with them soon, he added.
UK privacy watchdog intervenes in hearing over Googles use of web data