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Google Threatened With Fines By French Regulators

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Google (GOOG) continues to run afoul of French and other European regulators when it comes to their online data privacy policy. That country's computer "watchdog" group, CNIL, has told Google that the company has to change its current ways or face fines beginning at the equivalent of $200,000 and doubling to $400,000 for continued non-compliance.

For the past 14 months, the French have led the European Union initiative to get Internet companies to be more open about how, when, where and why they collect personal data and the subsequent use of that data.

According to a Reuters report, France is just the first of a number of countries' investigations into Google';s practices. Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have all announced similar investigations into the matter.

Google shares were falling 0.9% to $891.61 at 11:08 a.m. in New York.

Last year, Google changed more than five dozen of their privacy policies and began combining collected user data from Google-owned online services such as Google+, Gmail and YouTube. Google's policy offered users no way to opt out.

European regulators immediately began a joint investigation resulting in setting a deadline of February, 2013 for Google to offer proposals of change. Google met with those regulators but offered no changes at that time.

Google says they'll continue to work with regulators in France and elsewhere. A spokesperson told Reuters "Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services. We have engaged fully with the authorities involved throughout this process, and we'll continue to do so going forward,"

CNIL, for its part, has warned Google that it must comply with France's Data Protection Act within three months or face sanctions.

Mid-morning, Google was off 0.73 percent trading at $894.06.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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