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Google facing $18.6 million fine over Dutch privacy violations

Google is in jeopardy of facing a fine as high as $18.6 million for violating Dutch privacy law unless it takes a number of steps in the next two months.

In a statement on Monday, the Dutch Data Protection Authority accused the global search engine giant of violating “several provisions” of law with its privacy policy by using Web surfers’ data to target ads.

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"Google catches us in an invisible web of our personal data without telling us and without asking us for our consent,” Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch agency, said in a statement.

“This has been ongoing since 2012 and we hope our patience will no longer be tested,” he added, referring to the year that Google’s most recent privacy policy was released.

The Netherlands is demanding that Google get “the unambiguous consent” of its users before putting together data about them based on its multiple different services, as well as refine its privacy policy to give “clear and consistent information” about what types of personal information it uses.  

The fine of as much as $18.6 million would be assessed if those demands are not met by February.

In a statement shared with The Hill, a Google representative said the company is “disappointed” with the decision, “especially as we have already made a number of changes to our privacy policy in response to their concerns."

“However, we’ve recently shared some proposals for further changes with the European privacy regulators group and we look forward to discussing with them soon,” the representative added.  

Google has repeatedly run into concerns with European privacy regulators, who have mounted several attacks on the company’s use of people’s information.