back to article Google fined by Spanish data watchdog over audacious privacy tweak

Google has been fined a piddling €900,000 for three separate breaches of Spain's Data Protection Act. The country's information watchdog (AEPD) said that Google had "impeded" the exercise of its citizens' rights, after the ad giant controversially revised its terms and conditions for netizens in March 2012 - despite a public …

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  1. Alexander Hanff 1

    Not the full story

    Hi Kelly,

    You don't appear to have reported on the full story here - which is no surprise as no-one appears to have a clear understanding as to what the penalties actually are (including Spanish privacy / data protection lawyers) - but perhaps you can use your journalistic skills to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the action.

    I am referring to the fact that the text of the sanctions does not just mention the fines it also talks about a termination order. Many privacy people have been engaged in discussion over this for the past 24 hours and what it actually means. It has been suggested that Google have been ordered to terminate -all- data collection across all their services until such time as they obtain explicit consent from Spanish users.

    This means no scanning Gmail and targeting ads, no Android data collection, no search, no doubleclick collection etc. Did you look into this? Of course the fine is paltry but if the termination clause means what it is currently being interpreted as - it is a far more significant penalty than the fine.

    1. Credas Silver badge

      Re: Not the full story

      Of course the fine is paltry but if the termination clause means what it is currently being interpreted as - it is a far more significant penalty than the fine.

      Particularly for their Spanish users, should Google decide their approach to complying with that should be "no consent, no access to any of our services".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not the full story

        What would Google have to do? Ask explicit permissions from the users before they can use Google Search? That would be, like, two seconds for everybody to click "I agree"…

        Anyway, I totally agree that the T&Cs used "ambiguous expressions" giving policies that are "indeterminate and unclear". They were written like that on purpose. All companies hire the best lawyers to make sure that these T&Cs do not restrict them in any way, because that would be risking painting themselves in a corner, and facing lawsuits. Can you imagine how stupid it would look for a company to be sued for not respecting T&Cs they wrote themselves?

        If legislators systems want to have T&Cs that are clear and sane, they have to write them themselves. There is no way companies are going to write themselves T&Cs which could be used against them in a court.

      2. Alexander Hanff 1

        Re: Not the full story

        That would be a really dangerous decision for Google because the Spanish order is just one of many EU decisions to come. EU is one of Google's largest markets (probably their largest) and is the second largest economy in the world (last I checked a couple of months ago) - if they start playing that game, what do they do if other regulators take the same action as the Spanish (remember this was part of a regulatory "coalition" spearheaded by CNIL)? Do you seriously think they will block access to their biggest market - that would be akin to cutting their nose off to spite their face.

        But all this is speculation because there is no comprehensive explanation as to what the full reach of the decision is and what the termination order actually means.

      3. Azzras

        Re: Not the full story

        I live just fine without Google's services. I'm sure that Spain will manage well enough.

        You are right, though. Google is known to use and hurt their users to either prove a point or get what they want. They've done this over and over again. I'm surprised no one ever truly calls them out on it..

  2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    It's probably just as well Google isn't a British company...

    ...what with the current Spanish aggression towards the UK.

    Gibraltar border searches, territorial waters disputes, national Govt. over ruling regional Govt planning consents and bulldozing ex-pats house without compensation. If Google was a UK company, Spain would probably have nationalised the Spanish arm of Google

    1. Alexander Hanff 1

      Re: It's probably just as well Google isn't a British company...

      And that is relevant to the story how?

      Spain are one of several DPA's across Europe involved in this joint action (including the UK).

  3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Soft target...

    Shouldn't they be suing the NSA and GCHQ?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile, back in blighty

    when it comes to imposing fines - is yet to decide what action, if any, should be taken against Google.

    Should read "has already decided not to fine Google but instead insist they stand in the naughty corner and promise to behave and never do it again...

    The ICO cant stop a pizza company from texting you, let alone Google... Fkin toothless and spineless...

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