April 03, 2013, 11:23 AM — Google could be facing penalties and fines from across the Atlantic, as the search giant's failure to bring its policies in line with European privacy rules has prompted six nations to pursue enforcement actions against the company.
The task force gave Google four months to clean up its privacy act. "After this period has expired, Google has not implemented any significant compliance measures," the group explained in a statement Tuesday. "Consequently, all the authorities composing the task force have launched actions on 2 April 2013 on the basis of the provisions laid down in their respective national legislation."
Impact on the United States
The hardline stance from Europe is hardly surprising, according to Jeff Chester, director of the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington, D.C. "Europeans don't see privacy just as a consumer issue," he said in an interview. "They see it as a civil-liberties issue."
And that's an issue that's likely to be felt on this side of the Atlantic. "The EU sets the baseline by which policymakers and advocates operate, so this is a major positive development that will ultimately benefit U.S. consumers," he added.
"Google and Facebook and others will continue to make scads of money because we're all totally dependent on digital communications," he added. "But they're going to have to offer consumers a greater ability to make some decisions about their data."
The changes proposed by the EU task force "are not going to put a dent in any services whatsoever, but it will make Google play fairer," Chester said.