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December 16, 2014

Dutch DPA fines Google for violating user privacy

The regulators have been given until February to make changes to its data collection methods.

By CBR Staff Writer

The Dutch Data Protection Authority (Dutch DPA) has imposed a fine on Google for violating the privacy of internet users in the Netherlands.

The fine could amount to €15m for gathering personal information.

The Dutch DPA has accused the search giant of violating user privacy by combining data from emails, third-party websites, tracking or "cookies", location data, search engine queries, and video browsing to customise advertising without user consent.

Information reportedly collected includes logging info of users who logged into a Google account, used the search engine and those who accessed third party website with cookies from Google.

According to the DPA, the search giant violated several provisions of the Dutch data protection act by updating its privacy policy in 2012, which has been subjected to investigation in France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain.

The regulators have given Google until the end of February to change the data collection method and have asked the tech giant to clarify the information in its privacy policy. The regulators have also asked Google to obtain user permission for combining through personal data from different Google services.

Dutch DPA chairman Jacob Kohnstamm said: "Google catches us in an invisible web of our personal data without telling us and without asking us for our consent."

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"This has been ongoing since 2012 and we hope our patience will no longer be tested."

The Dutch DPA is expected to verify the changes in February, and if it finds flaws then Google will have to pay the €15m fine imposed by the regulators.

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