Google Is Fined $57 Million, First Major Penalty Under Europe’s Data Privacy Law

The New York Times was among the many sources recently reporting that the French data protection authority fined Google about $57 million for “not properly disclosing to users how data is collected across its services – including its search engine, Google Maps and You Tube – to present personalized advertisements.”

It’s the largest penalty given for violating the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). According to the Times, it “shows that regulators are following through on a pledge to use the rules to push back against internet companies whose businesses depend on collecting data.”

The ruling hits at Google’s basic practice of turning user data into carefully targeted ads. France’s CNIL, its data protection group, said Google didn’t get proper consent from users before processing their data.

The article says that U.S. policymakers are closely watching Europe’s experience as a U.S. federal law is possibly under consideration. ARMA International continues to follow these developments closely.

Soo Kang, of Zasio Enterprises, and a member of ARMA’s content editorial board, provides the following commentary on the news item:

“While this fine under the GDPR is the largest to date, the significance is not the amount of the fine itself, but the message sent through one of the biggest companies in the world. Even though Google is appealing the decision, the ruling places companies on notice that the data protection authorities are ready to strongly enforce the terms of the regulation. As data protection authorities take note of CNIL’s actions, and complaints against other tech giants await resolution, companies must take stock of their respective data privacy practices and assure that it is not merely a paper framework for compliance. Inability to demonstrate effective implementation only serves to expose companies to risk, which is expanding with the ripple effect of GDPR influencing change to privacy regimes around the world.”

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