The French fine against Google is the start of a war: European regulators, not tech giants, may set the rules for the digital economy

Posted in: Government & Policy at 27/01/2019 01:02

[registration] THE PRIVACY wars have begun in earnest. On January 21st France’s data-protection regulator, which is known by its French acronym, CNIL, announced that it had found Google’s data-collection practices to be in breach of the European Union’s new privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). CNIL hit Google with a €50m ($57m) fine, the biggest yet levied under GDPR.

Google’s fault, said the regulator, had been its failure to be clear and transparent when gathering data from users. Signing up for a Google account on an Android phone means navigating a sea of documents eight-clicks-deep to understand what data about you Google is collecting.

So far, so technical, but the bigger picture is what matters. The fine represents the first volley fired by European regulators at the heart of the business model on which Google and many other online services are based, one which revolves around the frictionless collection of personal data about customers to create personalised advertising. It is the first time that the data practices behind Google’s advertising business, and thus those of a whole industry, have been deemed illegal.

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