Google Inc (GOOG): France Threatens, But Spain Acts

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) might just have its head spinning now. Oh sure, the company has gotten used by now to facing several controversies and challenges from several different angles, but as many of those processes takes weeks or months to come to a resolution, the company may have several irons in the fire at the same but it rarely has hits on the same flank within this short of a time span. Is there such a thing as legal whiplash?

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) was in the news earlier this morning, as we reported  that the French government’s privacy watchdog group was setting a deadline for Google to modify its privacy policies across all of its platforms – including Gmail and YouTube – or face a fine. No such threat came from Spain hours later, but action instead, as the Spanish government announced Thursday afternoon GMT that it was launching an official probe into Google’s privacy policies and business practices. Spain claims that it has found evidence of as many as five major privacy-law violations, each of which carries a fine of up to nearly $400,000. Spain also noted a minor violation that could add another $45,000 in fines.

We had asked earlier whether a $200,000 fine from France was worth it for Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)to change its policies so they’re compliant with EU privacy laws. Well, maybe the question is different now that $200,000 could become as much as $2 million.  Might this speed up Google, which various EU officials have said that Google has, at best, been dragging its feet on this issue? In launching the probe, the Spanish Data Protection Agency said that it had serious concerns about Google’s new privacy policy, which went into effect last year but has been labeled insufficient by the EU. The crux of the case revolves around what Google does with the data it collects, how long it keeps it stored and how the data is ultimately used.

“Google does not give clear information about the use it will make of users’ data, so they are unable to know precisely why their personal data is being collected or how it will be used,” the Spanish agency said in a release. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is charged with using personal data in a disproportionate, diverting personal data for other purposes, excessive or indefinite storage of data, failure to handle data by legitimate means and obstructing users’ rights.

What are your thoughts? Do you think a potential $2 million sanction will be enough to get Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) to take action on this issue? Give us your feedback about Google and its monitoring ability of users in the comments section below.