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Netherlands say Google violates data protection law

The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) [official website] on Thursday stated that Google [corporate website] is in violation [press release] of the country's data protection act. For a website to comply with the country's data protection act, it must have the "unambiguous" consent of users when using their personal information. Unambiguous consent means that the data controller cannot assume consent of a user based on his or her silence in response to the controller's terms of service. Among its findings [PDF], the DPA states that "Google does not adequately inform users about the fact that it combines personal data from different services." Much of the concern on the part of European privacy organizations is in response to companies such as Google holding private user information in remote "cloud" storage, where they say that users have little control [Reuters report] over how their personal information is used. In response to these findings, Google stated that it provides users with information that is sufficiently specific as to how it will use individuals' personal information.

Google has faced international criticism for alleged privacy violations. Earlier this month, the Regional Court of Berlin held that 25 of Google's privacy policies and terms of service violate Germany's data protection law [JURIST report]. In September the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied a motion [JURIST report] to dismiss a lawsuit against Google for allegedly violating a federal wiretap law while collecting data for its Street View [corporate website] program. The case arose after Google acknowledged that its Street View vehicles had been collecting and storing data over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks, including personal e-mails, usernames, passwords, videos and documents. In April Google agreed to a $7 million settlement [JURIST report] of another case for alleged improper data collection during its Street View campaign. That same month, six European countries commenced legal action [JURIST report] against the corporation challenging its privacy policies.

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