Google faces first GDPR investigation in Europe

Google Faces Its First Privacy Probe From Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner

Google Faces Its First Privacy Probe From Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner

Are you ready for GDPR?

Google is at risk of another hefty privacy fine under the European Union's strict data protection rules after Irish regulators opened a probe of possible violations into how the search giant processes users' data in advertising transactions.

Now there are multiple state laws on data privacy including California's Consumer Privacy Act and Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act but no action has been taken on the federal level even after several senators have proposed their own bills. There was much discussion about how companies like Google and Facebook - which process a lot of user data - would manage to meet these guidelines, and what would the repercussions be if they didn't.

Now, it's Congress's turn to adopt a new framework that reflects the changing understanding of the right to privacy in the United States and around the world. Google was earlier this year slapped with a 50 million-euro ($85.8 million) privacy fine by the French data regulator for violating the European Union law.

Drake Gifted Custom Raptors/OVO Jacket Worth $769,000 by the Team
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The risk for firms operating in the U.S. is a future of operating in a piecemeal patchwork of state-based USA laws, and for multinational USA firms, dealing with local laws that don't mesh across the key global markets they serve. Any firm that provides services to this population will need to comply with CCPA. A watershed for U.S. privacy law, CCPA was the first law in the United States to include rights inspired by GDPR. According to courageous, a "massive and ongoing data breach" in Google's ad tech was leaking people's personal data, including locations, inferred religious, sexual, political characteristics, what they are reading, watching, and listening to online, and unique codes that allow long term profiles about each person to be built up over time.

This is important because the prevailing opt-in/opt-out privacy model in the United States forces consumers to make a decision for every website and online service they visit. French data regulator CNIL has had something of a head start, fining Google €50 million for "lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding ads personalization" in January. A company found to have violated the GDPR can be socked with a fine as large as 4% of the company's prior year global revenue.

"Federal law must also include strong enforcement provisions". As I saw first-hand when I served on the Federal Trade Commission, laws now on the books are simply not strong enough to enable the FTC to protect privacy effectively in today's complex digital economy.

The latest investigation - the first by the Irish watchdog into Google - brings to 19 the number of open cases by the regulator targeting big USA tech companies. For American businesses, interoperability between USA law and GDPR will reduce the cost and complexity of compliance by ensuring that companies don't have to build separate systems to meet differing - and even conflicting - requirements for privacy protection in the countries where they do business.

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