Internet users have instructed lawyers to press European internet regulators to take action to ensure Google complies with European laws.
London-based law firm Olswang has written to the regulators, setting set out concerns of consumers about Google's consolidation of personal data. The internet giant is allegedly pooling data from all of its products, giving it a comprehensive record of each internet user's preferences.
Ross McKean, Olswang partner, argues that regulators must do more to ensure that companies stay within the law:
"All companies must comply with data protection laws when collecting users' data, and Google is no exception. Despite having received detailed complaints from European regulators about its handling of internet users' personal information, Google seems determined to ignore these and continue its plans to create comprehensive files on consumers, pulling together data from a variety of sources, in many cases without any apparent legal justification.
"The maximum fine the Information Commissioner can impose on Google for this action is just half a million pounds. Google makes that much money from its operations in just one country in less than two hours. It simply is not a deterrent."
Consumers in the UK have already launched a legal action against Google for breaching their privacy by installing cookies to track their online activities despite specifically stating they did not want to be tracked. Similar actions in France and Spain are being considered. In the United States, the company agreed to pay $22.5million to the US Federal Trade Commission to settle a related action.
The sanctions proposed by the campaigners include:
- Clear warnings on Google's search home page explaining how and why data is collected and tracked;
- Reversing Google's merger of all data across its services or, if that isn't possible, deleting all illegally merged data, with deletion independently verified; and
- A prominent apology to be placed on the Google search home page.