Google's EU woes continue with threats from Dutch authorities

Google's EU woes continue with threats from Dutch authorities
Google is threatening to shut down its news service in Spain on Tuesday. (Jens Meyer / Associated Press)

Google's never-ending battle with European laws and regulations continues this week.

In the Netherlands, Dutch authorities are threatening to fine the search engine giant for allegedly violating privacy laws.


In Spain, publishers who lobbied successfully for a law forcing Google to pay them to link to their stories now are asking the Spanish government to stop Google from retaliating by dropping the publishers from its news search.

On Monday, the national privacy watchdog, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA), announced that Google faces hefty fines if it doesn't meet privacy requirements set forth by the authority.

Google could be fined as much as 15 million euros ($18.7 million) if it fails to meet an end-of-February 2015 deadline to comply with demands that include asking users for their "unambiguous consent" before obtaining their information, providing clarity about what kind of user data is being used, and "clear information about the fact that YouTube is part of Google."

DPA President Jacob Kohnstamm said in a statement that Google violates the Google Custom Privacy conditions of the Data Protection Act by using information like data searched, location data, viewed videos and emails.

"Google captures us in an invisible web of our personal information without telling us and without asking our permission," Kohnstamm said. "This has been running since 2012 and we hope that our patience will no longer be put to the test."

Meanwhile, in Spain, the association of Spanish publishers known as AEDE called upon the Spanish government and European regulators to undo some of the damage a new law it had lobbied for is causing.

The law, to take effect in January, will charge news aggregators such as Google News for carrying content from Spanish news publications. News aggregators who fail to pay an undisclosed fee to the Association of Editors of Spanish Dailies will be fined $750,000.

In response to the law, Google announced it would shut down its Google News service in Spain on Tuesday.

News publishers have an awkward relationship with Google News and other news aggregators — they make no money directly from Google carrying their content, but they depend on search sites and social networks to spread summaries of their stories through the Internet, making some money from advertising when readers click to read the whole thing.

A spokesperson for the AEDE told the Spain Report that it is "not asking Google to take a step backwards, we've always been open to negotiations with Google, [but] Google has not taken a neutral stance."

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