Google facing £12m fine over Dutch privacy laws

Google could be hit with a £12 million fine from Dutch officials after breaching the country’s online privacy regulations.

The search engine giant stands accused of breaching the data protection act in the Netherlands by taking users’ data and serving them targeted ads, without first asking their permission.

Read more: European regulators investigate Google’s data protection policies

Google has also faced scrutiny over its data use policy in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK, particularly following new company guidelines introduced in 2012. The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) has given the firm until February to respond to the latest charge.

Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the DPA, described Google as testing the regulator’s patience through its practice of using data gathered from search engine results, emails, cookies and YouTube browsing.

“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 explained.

Kohnstamm also added that Google’s methods “catch us in an invisible web of our personal information, without telling us or asking our permission”.

Google has been ordered to inform users of all future instances of data collection. If it fails to seek user consent it could face fines of up to £12 million.

A company spokesman for the search engine company expressed his disappointment at the DPA’s ruling, claiming that many changes had already been implemented to ensure its privacy policy complied with current regulations.

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“However, we’ve 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, which suggests Google is willing to change its data privacy policy to avoid further bad pressb.