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French Courts Force Google to Air Indiscretion on Homepage

French Courts Force Google to Air Indiscretion on Homepage
Image credit: Google France

Google users in France might have noticed something a bit different about the search engine's homepage this weekend. 

Last month, France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), the country's data and privacy protection watchdog, fined Google $200,000 (150,000 euros), maintaining that the company's privacy policy violated French privacy laws and did not provide sufficient information about how user data was collected.

Related: Obama Changes Rules for NSA Data Collection

In addition to the fine, which is the maximum amount that can be incurred, Google was forced  to post a notice to its French homepage that alerted visitors to the ruling and fine for 48 hours following a failed appeal before French courts (Conseil d'Etat) on Friday.

The notice was required to be written in 13-point Arial font and located directly beneath the search bar, with a link to CNIL's decision. The statement read: "Press release: the CNIL has fined Google €150,000 for violating the law on 'information and freedoms.' The decision can be accessed at the following web address: http://www.cnil.fr/linstitution/missions/sanctionner/Google/." The only problem there was that the traffic from the link led CNIL's servers to crash for some of the weekend.   

Related: Congress to Google: Glass Privacy Issues Must Be Taken Seriously

While the company plans to continue to appeal, CNIL's decision was originally made in response to changes made to Google's privacy policy in March 2012, when the company combined its 60 services (including YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps) under a universal privacy policy. Meaning that once logged into any Google account, customers are unable to opt out. 

France is not the only one that has a bone to pick where Google is concerned. The company has already faced fines from Spanish and Dutch privacy authorities and Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom are carrying out similar investigations. 

Related: Internet Activists Plan Day of Action to Protest Mass Surveillance

Nina Zipkin is an editorial assistant at Entrepreneur.com.

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