German privacy regulators have ordered Google to give its products (“users”) control over how their data is used. The latest complaint relates to changes in Google’s privacy policies in 2012 that consolidated the company’s 60 privacy policies into one document, which also allowed the company to start collecting data on users across its online services. The ruling states that Google must seek expressed permission before it uses their data to create online user profiles across its services like email, search and its mobile products. Mr. Caspar, the Hamburg data commissioner, who previously fined Google $190,000 for illegally collecting personal information from unencrypted German Wi-Fi networks, said the company had not made sufficient changes to give users greater control over how their online information is aggregated.
Google faces penalties of up to 1 million euros (US $1.27M) if it does not comply with the ruling, according to a spokesman for the Hamburg data protection commissioner. In France, the national watchdog fined the company 150,000 Euros, or about $190,000, this year for similarly tracking and storing people’s online information. Regulators said that Google’s ability to aggregate such data without people’s consent could allow the company to ascertain individuals’ financial information, relationship status and sexual orientation, which is illegal under German law.The regulator’s comments signal the latest privacy challenge for Google, which has faced similar legal cases brought by other national regulators.
Google is further battling on a variety of other legal fronts in Europe. The company is facing renewed antitrust complaints brought by the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union. And the advertising giant has been stung by a recent European court decision that gives Europeans the right to request that links to online information about themselves be removed from Internet searches.
While Google continues to manufacture headlines by creating new ‘free’ services and buying innovative companies the company still indeed generates more than 90% of its revenues from online advertising (about $5 million per hour). So, Google’s users are indeed the product it is selling to its clients – the advertisers. And the more then company knows about its product (read: ‘you’) the more valuable it is to its clients. – Read more.