Google's practice of combining user data from its different services has led the Netherland's privacy watchdog to conclude that the search engine company is violating the Dutch data protection law. The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) set a meeting with Google to discuss its findings and later on decide if it will impose sanctions and penalties against it.

The decision of the DPA echoes the concerns of countries in Europe about personal data of citizens being stored in cloud services located out of their jurisdictions. Google implemented a new privacy policy on March 1, 2012 affecting all of its users across the globe. The terms that affect users of services such as YouTube, Gmail, and the Google search engine violates the Dutch privacy laws.

"Google combines the personal data from internet users that are collected by all kinds of different Google services, without adequately informing the users in advance and without asking for their consent. The investigation shows that Google does not properly inform users which personal data the company collects and combines, and for what purposes," DPA explained through a statement.

"The consent, required by law, for the combining of personal data from different Google services cannot be obtained by accepting general (privacy) terms of service," the DPA statement further elaborated.

"Google spins an invisible web of our personal data, without our consent. And that is forbidden by law," said DPA chair Jacob Kohnstamm.

The decision of the Dutch privacy body has resulted to a domino effect in six other countries in Europe that launched their own investigations how Google might be violating existing laws. Privacy groups have also raised the red flag against Google's practices especially following the revelations made by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden about the alleged access of the government to cloud services located in the United States.

Aside from the Netherlands, Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy and France have launched their own investigations. However, the fines for privacy violations are very modest compared to the earnings of Google. For example, the data protection body in Spain may impose fines against Google amounting to just $408,000, a meager amount compared to Google's earnings of $545,000 every five minutes, according to a Guardian report.

"Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services. We have engaged fully with the Dutch DPA throughout this process and will continue to do so going forward," Reuters quoted Google as saying.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.