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France Finally Levies Teeny Fine Against Google

France Finally Levies Teeny Fine Against Google

Today in international tech news: France hits Google with the maximum fine allowed by EU regulation for violating data privacy, which means the fine was minuscule. Also: Qualcomm is still in the dark about China's big antitrust investigation; and Samsung and Apple agree to have a patent powwow.

By David Vranicar
01/09/14 10:03 AM PT

Privacy regulators in France have slapped Google with the maximum fine allowed by law, confirming both the nation's dissatisfaction with Google and Europe's need to overhaul its data-privacy penalties.

France followed through on threats made in June and again in September to fine Google over its privacy policies, laying down a 150,000 euros penalty (roughly US$200,000) against the company -- the max fine allowed under EU regulations.

France's committee on information and liberty, or CNIL, also demanded that Google post a warning on its France page, google.fr, telling users that Google does not comply with French privacy laws.

The 2012 change to Google's data privacy practices -- folding all Google platforms under a single policy -- does not comply with French law, according to the committee.

Google did not "sufficiently inform" users about data collection, leaving people oblivious to, say, why their data was being collected, and for what purposes it was being used, CNIL maintained.

Data protection watchdogs in the Netherlands and Spain have come to similar conclusions.

The French fine is reminiscent of a similar action last April, when Germany fined Google for what the authorities claimed was "one of the biggest known data protection violations in history" -- namely, the company's habit of allowing Street View cars to slurp up WiFi data. Alas, as with France, Germany could fine the company only 150,000 euros.

[Source: CNET]

Qualcomm CEO: We're in the Dark

Qualcomm has not been filled in about its alleged antitrust violations in China, said CEO Paul Jacobs.

China launched an antitrust investigation into Qualcomm in November. A Chinese official followed that up in December, essentially saying that the country had the goods on Qualcomm.

Qualcomm was unaware of any violations, the company maintained, and it reportedly has forked over requested documents to Chinese authorities.

For those sympathetic to conspiracy theories, there are a few different ways to explain China's investigation (aside, of course, from legitimate antitrust concerns).

It is conceivable that China is seeking leverage in royalty negotiations -- or perhaps trying to bolster local suppliers -- as the country rolls out its long-awaited foray into 4G. Qualcomm, it so happens, is the world's head honcho in 4G technology.

Cynics also might wonder if this is retribution for U.S. investigations into Chinese tech companies, which were pretty well smeared on Capitol Hill in late 2012.

[Source: Reuters]

Samsung, Apple to Have Powwow

Heads of Samsung and Apple will have a heart-to-heart about the two companies' endless series of legal battles over patents and designs related to smartphones and tablets.

While the legal marathon has created some memorable moments -- including a British judge declaring that a Samsung tablet was not as "cool" as Apple's, and an Aussie judge labeling a case "ridiculous" -- the two companies could someday want to call off the lawyers.

A U.S. District Court filing confirmed that the two sides will meet on or before Feb. 19. The rendezvous is in response to a court order to submit a settlement proposal before yet another trial, which begins in March.

Lest too much be made of the meeting, the same California court ordered Apple and Samsung CEOs to meet in 2012. Look what good that did.

[Source: The Associated Press]


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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