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back to article French data cops to Google: RIGHT, you had your chance. PUNISHMENT time

Google has declined to make required changes to its privacy policy, France's privacy watchdog said today. The French data cops added that they will slap the ad giant with sanctions. The Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) - on behalf of the European Union's Article 29 Working Party - headed up an …

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If the US can nab UK businessmen for offering online services which are legal in the UK then why can't France grab him if they get the chance?

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If the US can nab UK businessmen for offering online services which are legal in the UK then why can't France grab him if they get the chance?

There's a reason the film isn't called "Team France: World Police."

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Anonymous Coward

grab?

like, "France grabbing by the balls and squeezing hard"?! O la la, this I must see!

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Because France have more respect for the rule of law and human rights than the USA.

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Anonymous Coward

Colour me surprised? No.

Google, claiming that they do not fall under any government jurisdiction?

Next thing you know the sun will come up tomorrow, as well.

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Re: Colour me surprised? No.

No they are arguing that the French law doesn't apply to online services. Given that French data protection law was written and past way back in 1968 they may have a point, depending what the specific language use in the law.

If they are right, the law wouldn't apply to any French online company or indeed any company on the planet until the French updated the laws.

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Re: Colour me surprised? No.

"Given that French data protection law was written and past way back in 1968 they may have a point, depending what the specific language use in the law."

I very much doubt that the French law would stipulate that data protection law is only valid for specified types of data. Doesn't matter if the data is stored on dead tree or in cloudy bits, the law is most likely completely valid in this respect.

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Re: Colour me surprised? No.

"If they are right, the law wouldn't apply to any French online company or indeed any company on the planet until the French updated the laws."

Updating the law is not difficult. What would Google do then?

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Boffin

Re: Colour me surprised? No.

1. the law is from 1978, NOT 1968.

2. The French data protection act has been updated multiple times since ...

When you have no clue, please refrain from commenting.

See https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loi_relative_%C3%A0_l%27informatique,_aux_fichiers_et_aux_libert%C3%A9s_du_6_janvier_1978 (excuse wikipedia's French)

BTW, how come Google acknowledges the European cookie legislation ?

Google is in a bad situation and I am sure Facebook will team up with them !

All your data is belong to US.

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Main purpose...

The main purpose of the Data Protection laws is to ensure that data stored on computers is controlled and not misused.

Forgive me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that Google has several large data centers full of computers, where they store the peronally identifiable data of visitors and registered users of their services.

Or is that merely a front and they have an infinite number of monkies writing the data on index cards and pull them back out and typing the information onto terminals which bung the information at users? If that is the case, I take it all back, they may well be exhempt from data protection laws...

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Fixed

"All your date is belong to USA."

There, fixed it for you. ;-)

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Re: Updating the law is not difficult.

Probably true. Which may speak volumes about the intent of the enforcement agencies.

Do I want Google tracking me like a commercial version of the NSA? No. But we need to follow the rules when ensuring they aren't.

It seems to me the proper course of action would be for the committee to go through the legal case in the courts establishing that the rule does apply. If the courts aren't involved and it is strictly an administrative hearing under the auspices of the committee I regard it as an improper legal procedure because there is no system of checks and balances.

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Fines are fine

Jail is better.

To a company like Google, slapping a fine for non-compliance (or "law-breaking" as the traditionalists might call it) means very little. Even confiscating the advertising revenue they make in France would only be a minor annoyance.

However, their stance that "your law does not apply to us" needs some serious attention. Flinging a few americans into a french jail until the company makes itself legal would certainly have a direct and personal effect on the decision makers of the company. It would show Google that they cannot take such a patronising position and above all else, it would be wonderful theatre for the rest of us to watch.

You never know, you might even get a few brits saying "Go, Frenchie!"

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Re: Fines are fine

Go, Frenchie!

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Re: Fines are fine

Given how French bureaucracy works, there'll be 6 months in writing the writ, 12 months getting it to be heard at the "cour de cessation", another 24 months of deliberation after both sides have made their stance until a decision can be reached, by which time, 2-3yrs have passed by which time Googles terms have changed so any decision is null and void.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fines are fine

quelle horreur! ... mais ton idee ne marche pas

French bureaucracy is notoriously long, but they are not going to back down on a foreign company so easily. noncompliance with an order, regardless of how long google try to drag this on will result in fines mounting, patience wearing thin, etc.

"putain Americans" is a prevailing sentiment here

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Re: Fines are fine

<quote>Jail is better.</quote>

Perhaps an IP address blockade would be more effective :-)

The French would have to learn to use TOR to get around it. But first they would need to find out how - without using Google. So they would need to use another search engine - bingo.

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Re: Fines are fine

"Jail is better."

Putting the boot on the other foot, perhaps Google should stop their services being accessed from any French IP address, and systematically eliminate anything French from their search results. That would be most amusing.

Would France even exist if you could only find it with Bing?

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Surprising

Google seems to be jumping hoops with Europe about the monopoly issue, I'd have thought they would pay attention to this. I guess they really want this new privacy policy to stand…

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Surprising

There is a cultural issue here. Google management seems to be only capable of thinking along US lines, where sufficient sponsorship to the right political party will get you a "get out of jail" card. Their assumption that Europe works the same way is what got them into this mess.

What isn't well known is that after the original Art 29 Working Group letter, Google may not have responded formally, but the corridors in Brussel as well as Switzerland were think with Google sponsored lobbyists. In this context, I assume Switzerland wasn't lobbied as part of the EU problem, but because the Swiss with their strong privacy laws were already on the ball, and would see the Art 29 warning as an extra validation of their position - in any case, Google was trying to do the US thing of engineering itself out of this without admitting guilt.

The problem is that current fines are puny. Google will not change its way unless a fine really hurts, but simply write it off as the cost of doing business..

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Devil

Re: Surprising

I think it's a bit more fundamental than that. Google do not want to change their privacy policy because their whole business model is based on the minimum privacy and data protection for their users that they can get away with.

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Re: Surprising

"The problem is that current fines are puny. Google will not change its way unless a fine really hurts, but simply write it off as the cost of doing business.."

Indeed, 10% of their money each year is not much. They make more profit than that...

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Re: Surprising

Maybe Google should use its own search engine.

I'd suggest starting with Santayana, try "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

And then look up Microsoft vs. EU.

Maybe if Google knew how to use its own search engine, it would give them pause for thought.

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Anonymous Coward

I guess we're about to see how the French internet fairs without any Google services.

Will the French people object to having their government censoring the internet, to "force them damned Americans to do as they say"?

Let battle commence...

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Realistically, though, we are going to see no such thing. Instead, Google will either relent soonish and start following the law or be forced to do so after a (more or less prolonged) court battle. Although the initial fines may be of no consequece to them as such, they cannot simply pay and continue to operate as if nothing had happened as this would amount to an admission of guilt and continuing breaking the law, which, in turn, would just result in litigation, criminal and civil, from the hopeless position of having admitted guilt and continuing with the offense.

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A large business pulling out of a country is rare and risky. Greed plays a major factor, obviously, but so does a service vacuum.

Google did what they did in China because they cannot displace the leader there, pulling out didn't leave a real hole. Pulling out of an EU country would create an opportunity for a competitor who better meets French and EU privacy standards to become the preferred EU search provider. That's a sizable market to risk. It isn't good business strategy to provide a competitor with such an opening, especially now that other search providers are growing (slowly) towards meeting the challenge from Google.

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They pulled out of china because of US political pressure and their image with their US customers - "Advertise with Google, the company that sends more users to concentration camps than any other search engine"

Standing up at a US company meeting and saying: "we are handing Europe back to Microsoft because they wont let us spy on customers there, don't be evil (tm)". Is hardly going to go down as well.

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If customers really cared about the politics of China they'd have cared about the 78% of the other stuff they buy that is critical to their lifestyles before they cared about search engines.

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Anonymous Coward

@Don Jefe: People don't realise just how much of their stuff comes from China and even if they did, they can't do anything about it. However, a search engine is different, people can change that, they can't change who targets the advertising at them though.

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@Don Jefe

About ten years ago my mother decided to try to return to the "Buy American" roots of her union parents. She gave up after a few weeks. She couldn't find anything in the stores that wasn't made overseas. She noted it was nearly impossible to buy clothing that wasn't made in China. I don't imagine the situation has improved since then.

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@Don Jefe

an opportunity for a competitor who better meets French and EU privacy standards...

Technically you are correct, but when you consider the competition (mostly US based companies) - do any of them really meet our privacy standards? The focus is only on Google because of the monopoly position - I don't think the likes of Microsoft are doing anything differently - and they're all handing over masses of data on Euro-citizens to the NSA.

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Anonymous Coward

Well Europe alone is at least 50% bigger than than America, and globally some 95% of the population is not in America so it is definitely about time the USA stopped throwing its weight around. The world is becoming increasingly annoyed by the arrogance of the US so it might be a good idea for them to realise this.

As for doing without Google, I doubt if that would be a problem, and why not do without Apple as well !

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Devil

Are they splitting hairs?

Google's philosophy: "You can make money without doing evil." Is not following another country's laws not evil? I.e., is their inaction evil, or does evil require explicit action?

The European governments should just block Google and its services. Pull the cord on the guillotine, and sever the connection. Google with come around when their revenue goes flat. If the users want to use Google services that badly, then they can go through a proxy to do it, and then the governments can say to the users, "Hey, you went out of your way to get reamed by Google. Tough!"

After all, it's a two-way street with Google. The users want Google's data, and Google wants the user's data. A service that didn't sell user's data or advertise at them would have to be funded by subscription fees. Now, when was the last time something like that worked on the Internet?

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Re: Are they splitting hairs?

" ... would have to be funded by subscription fees ...."

I wonder if anyone has done some kind of usage analysis of how people use Google services, what convenience and benefit the services give to the user and how much those services are actually worth to the average user. (Note: Watching cat videos does not have a high, if any, value to a sane user, no matter how much it costs to host the videos or deliver them.)

My use of free online newspapers means that I save enough money every month to pay for my cable internet connection, an easily calculated benefit. What does Google do for me (or Josephine Average) and how much _should_ I/we be willing to pay for it?

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Re: Are they splitting hairs?

A service that didn't sell user's data or advertise at them would have to be funded by subscription fees. Now, when was the last time something like that worked on the Internet?

Ask Blizzard or CCP?

Vimeo seem to have a paid service too, if you fancy an alternative to Youtube.

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Re: Are they splitting hairs?

They can advertise to users without breaking the law.

VW sends me ads, it knows a bought a car from them and might buy another. It does not need to track everywhere I drive, who I am with, who I talk to and what shopping I put in my VW to do that.

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Re: Are they splitting hairs?

Unless google actually host services in france, why should they follow french law?

There are thousands of websites out there which are perfectly legal in one country, but highly illegal in another... What makes the law of france any more valid than any other country?

Pornography is illegal in many countries, as is criticising the government etc...

What is needed however, is education for the users... Users should have it made clear to them that by submitting their data to a foreign site they will not be protected by their own local data protection laws, and depending on the laws in the country where the site is operated they may not have any data protection whatsoever on their side.

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Holmes

Re: Are they splitting hairs?

@Joe Montana, isn't that the point; the French are asking for the Ts & Cs to be more explicit about what is done by Google with the data...? Isn't it really Google's responsibility to provide this information in the form of their contract with the user, so the user can make that educated and informed decision?

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Re: Are they splitting hairs?

Good point - if this was a middle-eastern regime that was threatening Google for not handing over data most would be saying exactly the same - if there's no servers hosted there and no business being done - there is no case to answer.

If they do have offices and bank accounts however....

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French regulatory authorities have failed repeatedly to get their punishments against Google pass their courts and declared legal. I don't believe this case will be any different.

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Anonymous Coward

On the other hand if the French do get their way, the rest of Europe might follow suit in support...

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If you mean about changes to data protection act currently going through EU, I doubt they will apply to Google and the changes it made last year, it very unlikely they will make the law retrospective, large parts of it are already facing legal troubles, it apparently incompatible with German constitution for example, Britain and among others are trying to water down the proposals.

If you mean that other EU countries currently running separate enquiries into whether Google breach their own data protection laws, then I say it extremely unlikely that all of them will get past the investigation stage, even few of them will survive the courts, it hard for example to see what Google did wrong under the UK Data protection act of 1998 for example.

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Anonymous Coward

"... see what Google did wrong under the UK Data protection act of 1998..."

as modified by the

Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003

The Data Protection Act 1998 (Commencement No. 3) Order 2011

etc

and any other regulations?

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Google should redirect them

YA here ya go France when you click or type in Google you get redirected to BAIDU have a nice day . If I was one of the top nut's at Google I would pull out of there so what if I loose a billion dollars thats a drop in the bucket so screw off France

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Happy

Re: Google should redirect them

Reminded me of a funny 'Allo' allo' thing! The French stick Google, snigger?

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Re: Google should redirect them

psst, I vill zay zis only once.

"The fallen madonna with the big googles"

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Anonymous Coward

Blackhole

Making ISPs in France blackhole 5.0.0.0/8, should get Google's attention.

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If I set up a website intending only for my own countries people to use and people from all of the world choose to, does that mean i automatically have to comply with every country in the worlds laws? Sounds kind of stupid to me. I know in Googles case they fully operate in France, but I dont see some countries attitudes being different even if they didn't, take Twitter for example and some countries attitudes where Twitter does not have an office.

If I was these companies I would simply tell them I won't be complying and stop messing around.

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"If I set up a website intending only for my own countries people to use and people from all of the world choose to, does that mean i automatically have to comply with every country in the worlds laws? Sounds kind of stupid to me. I know in Googles case they fully operate in France, but I dont see some countries attitudes being different even if they didn't, take Twitter for example and some countries attitudes where Twitter does not have an office.

If I was these companies I would simply tell them I won't be complying and stop messing around."

You could do that. Just hope that it's not a powerful country, like the US, or one that you have any dealings with, otherwise they'll arrest you when you drop by.

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Anonymous Coward

@bigtimehustler good job we use aliases on here, people won't be able to tell you to your face how stupid you look when making comments about something that's obviously completely over your head.

FYI. Google serve French users as they do everyone else, because they make money from doing so, they're not a charity, everything you think they give away for free, you are paying for. Like many multinationals, they leach capital out of France and pay very little back, in fact they pay back a lower percentage than a settled French business would.

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