Google’s European woes continue. The outcome of the antitrust settlement negotiations is still uncertain and it’s not clear that Google will “get off” without more concessions. Now, European privacy complaints against Google have come to a head, with France all but promising to fine the company.
In this context CNIL is a stand-in for a broader coalition of European privacy regulators that are likely to follow France’s lead.
In contrast to the WSJ report, the Associated Press said that a fine has already been determined by CNIL. That fine will apparently be $400,000 (roughly 296,000 EUR). It’s unclear which report is accurate regarding the fine.
The WSJ said that CNIL was “considering whether it would be legally possible to count every Google user in France as an infraction—allowing it to multiply France’s data-protection fines beyond the current maximum of €150,000 ($203,000) for first offenses.” The agency recognizes that a fine of even several million euros is trivial to Google and might be seen simply as the “cost of doing business” in Europe.
However if regulators across Europe follow France and impose similar fines the amount Google might be compelled to pay could be substantial.
Separately in the UK, Google filed financial documents that reportedly show Google paid limited UK taxes of just under £12 million ($19 million) on revenues of £506m ($817 million) in 2012. This will undoubtedly reignite debate about Google paying its “fair share” in Britain. Google has repeatedly been criticized in the British House of Commons for channeling revenue through its Irish subsidiary where corporate taxation is lower.
Google maintains everything it is doing is legal and that it contributes significantly to the UK economy.