Feeds

back to article Brits, Germans, French, Dutch, Spanish and Italians ALL to probe Google

Google faces possible legal action from six different data protection regulators in Europe - including the British Information Commissioner - after the advertising giant failed to comply with an order to make changes to its privacy policy. France's Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), which was tasked …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Anonymous Coward

So…

They will investigate any time soon the similar changes to Microsoft's privacy policy?

5
9
Anonymous Coward

Re: So…

Why is it that every story about Google spawns "but Microsoft did/do this too" type of comments? Someone else doing something doesn't make it ok. I learned that when I was about three.

Also, if you're suggesting that the EU won't stand up to MS in some way, you should probably read more IT news...

18
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: So…

Why let the truth get in the way of a good rant?

1
0
Silver badge
WTF?

Unity, or...

SO when it comes to 'European rules' all countries agree to have themselves led by the European commission to lay out these rules and enforce them (think about the latest issue where Microsoft can be fined quite heavily for not complying to providing a browser choice in its operating system).

Yet now I get the impression that the moment there's money to be made this unity quickly dissolves and its back to "every country for itself".

Where did the European unity suddenly go to? Shouldn't these issues be addressed on a European level, as has been done with Microsoft?

3
2
Silver badge

Re: Unity, or...

I think it's more like: the various countries implemented EU rules. Google (allegedly) breaks those rules. Therefore Google is (allegedly) committing an offence in every country of the EU.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Unity, or...

It's really rather similar to the US, where you've got federal law and state law.

2
0
Gold badge

Re: Unity, or...

I think it's more like: the various countries implemented EU rules. Google (allegedly) breaks those rules. Therefore Google is (allegedly) committing an offence in every country of the EU.

Correct. The main thing that Google screwed up was the chance to address the issue in one go for the whole of the EU. Now they face 27 or more separate battles, and a win in one jurisdiction will not help them one iota in another one as precedents are not shared between jurisdictions and an escalation to EU level will simply use the original warning as evidence of mal intent. Out of all the things they could have done, they chose the worst possible option: do nothing at all.

As I said elsewhere, it's time to stock up on popcorn. This has the potential to get both interesting and ugly. No doubt the apologists are being briefed and bribed as we speak.

0
0

Don't worry I'm sure the Google lobbyists will already be arranging a number of liquid lunches with the relevant civil servants. After a suitable period of time it will be announced that the changes are fine and that they will keep an eye on any future changes. Win Win the lobbyists get well paid and the civil servants get plenty of meals out and tickets to Wimbledon etc the only people who will possibly not see any benefit are the consumers/citizens but who cares about them.

8
2
Silver badge

You don't understand how the EU works

Microsoft got hit by the Competition Commission, an EU wide body.

Google is being investigated under data protection laws, which are handled at national level.

4
0
Bronze badge
Joke

Re: You don't understand how the EU works

So, is there only one Competition Commission?

5
1
Bronze badge

This have anything to do with the people leaving Google right now?

A story on El reg today talks about their privacy people retiring or jumping ship. Coincidence?

2
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: This have anything to do with the people leaving Google right now?

A story on El reg today talks about their privacy people retiring or jumping ship. Coincidence?

I don't think so. Google knows damn well it is ALREADY breaking EU Data Protection laws (and has been for years), so what this departure tells me is that their frankly fanatic lobbying in Brussels and Bern has not delivered the goods after all. That's good news for most of us - it means that Google will now have to face the music.

If I am right in that assumption, it means that Facebook is possibly going to get it in the neck as well regarding Europe versus Facebook..

2
0
Bronze badge

I think it's more than a little inaccurate to suggest that the ICO are even willing to do anything about Google, let alone take any legal action against them, given their past refusals to take any action whatsoever.

It's far more likely that those working for the ICO are busy padding their CVs in the hope of working for Google after they leave the regulator. At least one person apparently connected to the wifi streetview slurping has already done exactly that.

I would mention the name, but the last time I did that my post got rejected for some reason, despite the ICO itself confirming that this same former employee now worked at Google.

3
0
Gold badge

I think it's more than a little inaccurate to suggest that the ICO are even willing to do anything about Google, let alone take any legal action against them, given their past refusals to take any action whatsoever.

That's indeed not accurate. The ICO suspended action against Google because they had to see first what happened with that Article 29 Working Group complaint, and so this regulators in all the other nations that had signed that letter (and that was a looong list). Now Google has failed to act (by basically ignoring the Article 29 Working group and merrily continuing to break EU Data Protection laws) and their time to respond has expired, all participants are now free to act.

This means Google could in theory get hit with lawsuits in 27 or so separate countries. Normally, it could seek to escalate into the European Court as a delaying tactic, but as this one started at EU level I suspect that that would be heading for an already known verdict.

If I were in charge of protecting the corporation from issues under privacy law I would leave as well, because a lot of brown stuff will soon be unevenly distributed. Google's main problem is that the Streetview affair alone makes them a REPEAT offender, which opens the way for regulators to fine the heaving crap out of them, and frankly, they deserve it. It's not like they don't know the laws, and it's not like they haven't had plenty of warning by now.

This has the potential to get very, very ugly and very, very costly indeed.

2
0
Bronze badge

@Fred Flintstone

Except I was referring to the wifi data slurp, not the privacy policy issue being discussed here. You need only look at previous cases to see how the ICO interacts with Google. The only reason the ICO's investigation got re-opened seems to be thanks to the findings of the FCC - findings that the ICO may well have been able to replicate without outside help had they done the job properly the 1st time around themselves.

Personally speaking waiting for other people to come to a decision smacks of trying to find any excuse to pass the buck on to somebody else. This is not the attitude we should be expecting from a national regulator like the ICO in my opinion, especially when you consider prior reluctance of people within the ICO to do the job that they were hired to do.

0
0
Silver badge

"This has the potential to get very, very ugly and very, very costly indeed."

Google only has 2 ways of clawing that back of course - charging advertisers more (if they haven't been scared off) or charging endusers (who would leave in droves if they do this).

Then again, there's all those "free" email services it and Microsoft have been supplying to academic outfits up and down the EU. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they have hooks in the contracts, given how long it took $orkplace lawyers to comb through the things (Google got rejected because they couldn't guarantee data would not end up being stored outside the EU)

0
0
Gold badge

Re: @Fred Flintstone

Personally speaking waiting for other people to come to a decision smacks of trying to find any excuse to pass the buck on to somebody else. This is not the attitude we should be expecting from a national regulator like the ICO in my opinion, especially when you consider prior reluctance of people within the ICO to do the job that they were hired to do.

I understand the frustration, but I think they actually were correct in waiting for the outcome - if Google had indeed corrected its privacy policy as requested, any prosecution would have to be adjusted midway through, and it would have given Google wiggle room. Now Google has had its formal warning from 27 or so different nations at once and STILL just blithely continued breaking the law, the ICO is now fully justified in throwing the book at them proper.

It will be interesting to see what this does politically - there is enough justification to use them as an example and fine the bejeezes out of Google, which has the convenient side effect of filling the coffers at Westminster that were so gleefully left empty by the previous club. On the other hand, we have as yet no idea what dirt Google has dug up on government officials to control them (to sum up but one interesting aspect of illegal data acquisition) so we'll have to keep an eye on things.

I suggest you break out the popcorn - this could take a while, and unlike an MPAA region limited movie, this one is going to play in a lot of countries at once..

0
0
Meh

Re: @Fred Flintstone

"that the company had not implemented any "significant compliance measures."

Does this surprise me? No.

Forget the international law / big clout issues - their service at the small people level is just as appalling.

Reminds me of their idiot policy of never allowing people to set the minimum Youtube rate at 240 - for all the people with slow connections - but "stupid" does not get this either, irrespective of the millions of complains from people who don't want / need / can't / choose not too download at HD video levels....

And can't set their default viewing choice at this level......

Maybe this is not high IQ legal posturing by the managers of Google, maybe it's just plain stupidity.

1
0
Bronze badge
Devil

No one escapes the EU Inquisition......

When is the EU going to consolidate all of the laws of the various nation states into one document that companies wishing to do business there might understand and be able to comply with? Isn't that one of the things they are actually supposed to do?

Oh, that would be NEVER. That's because the EU doesn't actually have any real benefit except for those who run it. Seems to be a country club for psychotic socialist control freaks more than anything else.

So your anti-competetive regulatory body is under the EU but all the laws regarding data privacy have to be from individual countries? That's a DELIBERATE formula for unintended non-compliance, one being used to attack us based companies in particular.

What ever happened to the PHORM inquiry? What about all the European ISP's /Telco's/multitude of software manufacturers/governments that currently do exactly the same thing the EU accuses of Google?

EU Law seems to need some serious consolidation, as it appears to me that the EU just picks and chooses which laws/rules apply to American Corporations while ignoring any home grown company.

Selective prosecution is illegal EVERYWHERE. But there is no justice for American Corporations in the EU and never will be.

We have an interesting concept here in the US. It's called Federal Law and the States are not supposed to make individual law that duplicates or supersedes existing Federal law. That way we only have one primary set of regulations that need to be complied with.

The Code of Federal Registry may be confusing but it covers the whole country and is at least uniform. Now I can't argue the fact that some states like NY and CA try to rewrite Federal law in contradiction of the Constitution, but for the most part the general basis of law is common from location to location.

Get ONE GOOD LAWYER (hard enough to do in it's own right) and you can probably come up with something that complies with everything except NY & CA.

The EU seems to be a moving target however. and given how litigious they are, a completely unfair one.

2
12
Silver badge

Re: a completely unfair one.

Boo fucking hoo. Europe is composed of many countries with separate legal systems. If you can't deal with that don't do business here.

10
0
Silver badge

Re: No one escapes the EU Inquisition......

bollocks much?

Your post is hilighting the differences between 2 situatiions thjat are EXACTLY THE SAME!

Data protection in the EU is handled on a state by state basis (in this sence 'state' can be translated straight into merkin)

If you break a state law, do you expect to be pursued under the federal law?

And I know that 2 wrongs don't make a right, but a legal system biased against foreign companies?

" Lo and ben franklyn did say 'Hypocryte! cast first the apple from thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the USPTO from thy brothers eye"

3
2
Anonymous Coward

@Naughtyhorse

"ben franklyn"

That would be "Franklin".

0
0
FAIL

Re: No one escapes the EU Inquisition......

You fail to notice that in order to "consolidate" around any policy European nations have to agree on common terms, and that these are precisely those independent nations who routinely prefer to "pick and choose" as it fits their traditional views or selfish interests, the UK even more so, not your scapegoated and vilified "EU"...

1
0
Silver badge

Re: No one escapes the EU Inquisition...... @ Dan Paul

Dan, until you understand the differences between EU Regulations and EU Directives, you are unqualified to comment on this topic.

A Regulation is, in effect, the same as Federal law - it exists and is applicable in every state without any action required on the part of the government of each or any individual state. They are used very, very rarely.

A Directive sets out a set of priciples and goals that need to be addressed by every state. However, how these are addressed is up to each state. In essence, they set a minimum level of compliance in order to level the playing field for commerce. However, some countries (e.g. UK, Germany, Sweden) tend to take it as a minimum and then tack some extra on. Other countries (e.g. Italy, Spain, Greece, the newer member states) tend to treat them as a ceiling and try to do the bare minimum to comply.

And, until you actually know what "socialist" means, you aren't fit to speak at all ...

0
0
Bronze badge
Devil

Re: No one escapes the EU Inquisition...... @ Dan Paul

Intractable Potsherd, I will be the judge of what I say or do thank you, not some arrogant pedantic piece of cracked pottery (or "Crackpot").

Obviously our opinions differ as I strongly believe that the EU is unfairly anti-competitive against US based companies while you believe that they walk on water and fart roses.

The only way to fairly level the playing field, is to unify ALL your laws and regulations across ALL EU "States" which is why I commented about "Federal Law" (the rough equivalent of EU law) being the basis of all "state" law. When did I misunderstand the difference between EU directives and regulations? Who the fuck cares? You can't come together and agree on one set of rules to do business by. We already have, from the beginning (even though most of our current "leaders" are as ineffectual and lame as yours are).

Yes, we have state laws but thier basis is common across our Nation, unlike the EU.

All I called to attention was the baldfaced obvious legal bias against Google and Microsoft simply because they are American. IE the Inquisition...

No one read the comment about Phorm/BT/ISP's/Telco's doing the same things as Google and the unequal privacy regulation issues? NOOOOO, just typical bias here, damned 'merkin doesn't know what he's talking about.

In my opinion, Socialism is when government (EU or USA makes no difference) decides it has the authority to take all the money from those who made it (Germany) and give it to those who don't deserve to have it (Cyprus, Greece, Italy). This is perpetuated by arrogant Belgian and French twats and those who keep them in power.

0
0
Bronze badge
Devil

Re: No one escapes the EU Inquisition......

No BS, OUR Data Protection laws ARE FEDERAL, NOT STATE! Talk about not understanding. Federal means the SAME law applies EVERYWHERE!

And YES, the only companies are getting singled out by the EU for "Anti-competitive behaviour" are American. That's not BS, it's simple fact.

Yes, If I break certain state laws, I can be pursued Federally.

Did I bring up the USPTO?

0
0
Silver badge

Tax revenue for free

The americans have been doing this sort of thing (imposing enormous fines on foreign companies) for some time. It seems only fair that "we" get in on the act, too.

These fines are actually a nice little earner and since they don't hurt any nationals from the countries doing the regulating they provide some free money to the various exchequers. Whether or not this amounts to (illegal) trade sanctions is debatable, but if they can do it to us, why shouldn't we regulate back? It sure beats the hell out of taxing your own voters.

6
2
Bronze badge
Devil

Re: Tax revenue for free

Illegal trade sanctions? Do you want to give some actual examples please? Bull Excrement all around otherwise.

BP for maliciously "forgetting" to properly supervise their subcontractors safety proceedures perhaps and then dumping perhaps a billion gallons of oil into the Gulf Coast? That's the only major fine on a european company I can see; besides Toyota for delaying recalls, some foreign banks that manipulated currency or laundered money, Chinese Vitamin C makers for price fixing, equipment manufacturers that violated sanctions.

All these are far better reasons to fine some company than to fine Google because they slurped your data when you had to agree to their T's & C's in order to use their services.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Country club for psychotic socialist control freaks

I would tend to agree with the statement "That's because the EU doesn't actually have any real benefit except for those who run it".

I have a couple of acquaintances at the Commission .....

One frequently tells me how boring and dreary the job is, they're only still working there because of the pension and lack of jobs in Brussels.

The other recently told me, honestly and truthfully, that they thought it was the end of their career because they had breached strict protocol by ...... addressing her boss by his first name infront of his boss.

Anonymous in order to protect the innocent..... ;-)

1
1
Silver badge

Re: Country club for psychotic socialist control freaks

The benefits of the EU are not what you think they are. The EU for many years did exactly what it was supposed to do by ensuring that no single country can get so far ahead of its neighbours that war is a possibility. It also wrapped up the leaders of individual countries so closely that they fight through bureaucracy and diplomacy, rather than belligerance and military. It also made the governments of Europe have common economic enemies - the USA being the biggest at the beginning, China coming up on the rails.

The Euro fucked all this up, of course, because it didn't allow countries with weaker economies to do what was necessary to keep afloat. War in Europe is closer now than it has been since 1939.*

*Not that I'm expecting it to happen, but without the EU the instability in Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Spain etc would be extremely worrisome ...

0
0
Bronze badge
Devil

Re: Country club for psychotic socialist control freaks

Unfortunately, those poor people are probably not at the "Upper Crust" Parlimentary level I am refering to.

I deal with US Govermental bureaucracy all the time and have several lifelong friends in NIST and N.A.S.

All of them lament the stupidity of their respective bureaucratic agencies but can do nothing about it.

It appears that the Obama administration is as lame as any other. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and absolute stupidity does the same.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

'I don't care because I use Adblock / NoScript....'

Can someone knowledgeable please tell me if these tools are effective against complex tracking.... ?

i.e. Tracking that uses revived deleted 'zombie' cookies that use Flash & ETAGS (cached sessions) .

As reported here regarding Hulu :-

http://www.adotas.com/2011/08/hulu-caught-respawning-cookies-as-etags-enter-tracking-fray/

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: 'I don't care because I use Adblock / NoScript....'

Not really, they will stop adverts appearing by blocking http requests from certain sources, a bit like having your own white/black list.

Noscript tools can be complex and "slightly" clever and stop java from specific sources or specific java applications to blanket blocking all java or specific scripts called from the page (including CSS if you like that kind of look).

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: 'I don't care because I use Adblock / NoScript....'

Thanks Gordon Pryra!

0
0

The good news is Google will out last the European Commission

I would rather sign up to Google's Terms of use etc than the EU's rules. Google should just up camp to out of the EU and then ignore their money wasting dictacts.

3
2
Silver badge

Re: The good news is Google will out last the European Commission

"Google should just up camp to out of the EU and then ignore their money wasting dictacts [sic]."

I think they make too much money for them to do that...

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: The good news is Google will out last the European Commission

I would rather sign up to Google's Terms of use etc than the EU's rules

The EU laws are there to protect your right to privacy, whereas Google's ToS and privacy policy are there to violate that right.

I suggest you move then - the US model of privacy protection (or rather lack thereof) may more to your taste.

4
0
Trollface

Re: The good news is Google will out last the European Commission

The usual nonsensical comment. Stating why you will never be a CEO.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

I have a better idea

How about all the countries that need their banks to be bailed out "probe" google aka extort bailout money from google.

0
1
Bronze badge
Thumb Down

Quaking in their 'Merkin boots...

...Google are.

Google has more money than sense. Only way to deal with this company is to block the services until they are compliant. Fines only profit the vested interest and laywers - while the public gets nothing.

0
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: Quaking in their 'Merkin boots...

I suppose the various authorities could order google to delete all data collected from EU "citizens" under their dubious policy - a dent in their databases might be painful if it happened.

0
0
Alien

So remind me again why Alma Whitten resigned?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/02/alma_whitten_quits_google/

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: So remind me again why Alma Whitten resigned?

I suspect she has been telling them exactly what may happen, and has been given a stiff ignoring (judging by Google's actions so far).

So, brown stuff, spinning air movement system, uneven distribution - you know the drill, and guess who will get blamed? I wouldn't want to have that splattered over my resume either.

0
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Google to be investigated for privacy violations.

In other news: "Governments to do anything that they f*cking want."

2
2
WTF?

what did google ever do to you?

I'm still not getting why everyone's always hellbent on sticking it to Google. All they ever did to me was give me a simple way to surf the internet, personal email, email for my entire business, calendars that sync with all my friends', a contact book that syncs with my cell phone, powerful online office productivity software, maps of the entire world, sketch-up, and about a million other things...all for free. I suppose they might be selling information about my online habits to various people, but who isn't?! And those other companies don't give me any free stuff for the privilege. If you don't like Google, DON'T USE IT. I'm sure AOL's still got some of those introductory CD-ROMs still kicking around that they can send you so you can get on line.

4
1
Bronze badge

Re: what did google ever do to you?

calendars that sync with all my friends', a contact book that syncs with my cell phone, powerful online office productivity software, maps of the entire world, sketch-up, and about a million other things

And about another million ways of tracking where you are, who you know, what you're doing, what you're saying and who you're saying it too.

You're welcome to your goldfish bowl way of living, but I think most people would like to have at least some semblance of privacy.

If you don't like Google, DON'T USE IT.

Ummm... I assume that you know that you are effectively opted into their online spying - sorry 'scanning' to provide 'relevant advertising' - whenever you communicate with somebody that has a gmail account even if you don't use gmail yourself? And that google analytics - to name but one product - is installed on so many websites it's probably impossible in reality to avoid Google entirely?

GA is also used on a number of UK.gov websites too. Even the ICO's site has it. And isn't hosted locally either. No wonder the ICO has yet to take any substantial action Google - they're too busy sending Google information on who is doing what on their site. They simply don't have the time to properly maintain their own site, let alone enforce the law in an acceptable way.

Go ahead: try and avoid Google entirely. I'd be interested if anybody could actually manage it.

0
1
Gold badge

Re: what did google ever do to you?

I'm pretty sure that the Google fonts API which is embedded in pretty much every Wordpress template much yield a rich harvest of data too.

The people with the biggest problem here are EU businesses. If any of them use Google to handle any customer data they inherit the liability - THEY get fined instead of Google. Let's see how long it takes for companies to wake up to that one, that could get interesting pretty rapidly.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: what did google ever do to you?

It is not free. You are, at least, paying with your privacy.

0
0

Re: what did google ever do to you?

"And about another million ways of tracking where you are, who you know, what you're doing, what you're saying and who you're saying it too....but I think most people would like to have at least some semblance of privacy"

I strongly disagree that "most of us would rather have some privacy." I doubt whether 1 in 100 members of the general public could care less about the kind of privacy that google stands accused of violating.

I drive back and forth from my crackerbox house in the suburbs to my deskjob in an office park; my kids go to school down the road with all the other kids. I wear clothes I buy from catalogs that still get shoved through my mail slot, I read books I hear about on the radio. I take vacations in the same places everyone else does (witness the traffic getting to and from). I have interests and talk about them over beer with my friends. I hope I save enough money to retire and take up a hobby like stamps or model boats.

Honestly, I don't think most of us lead lives that are nearly as interesting as we think they are. I'm sure that google is directing corporation x towards me and not corporation y and I figure sometimes corporation x manages to trick me into buying something I wouldn't otherwise, but so it goes. Salesmen used to come to my door, now they come to my inbox...where google helps me filter them out. I think the scenarios where the gov't gets taken over by space aliens or socialists and begins to round up free thinkers using data coerced from google are fantasies of the overly self-important.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: what did google ever do to you?

I strongly disagree that "most of us would rather have some privacy." I doubt whether 1 in 100 members of the general public could care less about the kind of privacy that google stands accused of violating.

Perhaps I was overstating things a little there, but I still believe that if this is the case then it's probably down more to now knowing about what Google has been doing rather than knowing about it and not caring. Even the US - a country with what seems like a fairly pro-industry government - has had to consider developing something like the DNT standard, and they wouldn't waste their time doing this if there wasn't the demand for it.

They've even managed to fine Google before the EU did, so I'm not entirely certain why there has been so much EU bashing in this thread.

I don't think most of us lead lives that are nearly as interesting as we think they are.

I think you're confusing being interesting with being profitable. Something can be extremely dull and yet still make money.

I think the scenarios where the gov't gets taken over by space aliens or socialists and begins to round up free thinkers using data coerced from google are fantasies of the overly self-important.

I would certainly agree. However these are rather ridiculous extremes that are little better than a caricature of what is really going on. I wonder: how much have you looked at what is going on around you?

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.