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Data Protection – Italian Fine for Google Inc.

Yet another data protection headache for Google Inc.? Today a number of newspapers reported the news regarding a fine issued against Google. In reality this is the result of a two years procedure ending up last December with an injunction which imposed a fine against Google for the amount of 1,000,000 Euros for the Street View service.  

No doubt that after the Vividown Case in Italy (covered by our previous post here), a lot of EU Authorities have been targeting Google.

By way of example, see the post from our colleagues Carol Umhoefer, Jeanne Dauzier & Mathilde Hallé regarding the largest-ever (for France) CNIL fine (150,000 Euros) issued to Google for having failed to comply with several requirements of French data protection law.

In such a case, the CNIL ordered Google to revise its global privacy policy regarding all the services provided by the entity. Due to Google refusal to modify the policy, CNIL issued its largest-ever fine.

However, Google was not new to CNIL fines as, in March 2011, the multinational was also sanctioned for unlawful processing of personal data via the Street View service, as in the Italian case. Similarly, in December 2013 the Spanish data protection authority fined Google Inc. 900,000 Euros on the same grounds.

So it looks like the Italian Data Protection Authority followed up on the colleagues’ positions. The Authority held that the collection of personal data via the Street View service is to be considered unlawful as the global privacy policy provided by Google is not adequate and compliant with Italian data protection law (Section 13 of the Italian Legislative Decree No. 196/2003, the Italian Privacy Code).

Accordingly the Authority applied the sanction as per Section 161 of the Italian Privacy Code further increased in consideration of the fact that the characteristic of the Street View service determines the implementation of a “large scale database” (as per Section 164, paragraph 2 and 4 of the Italian Privacy Code).

It is also worth noting that Google is currently subject to a criminal proceeding with regard to the data collected through the Street View.

Google recently also underlined that being the services provided globally a global policy should suffice. In light of this position, is it legitimate to expect further reactions from our Authority? If you want to discuss the topic, feel free to contact me, Giulia Zappaterra (giulia.zappaterra@dlapiper.com).