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New EU laws could mean litigation for Google in future

For businesses that do business internationally it's important to know not only the domestic laws but those in other countries as well. This is perhaps one of the areas in business law where companies and businesses run into the most problems.

With regulations and policies changing on almost a daily basis, sometimes companies can find themselves in the middle of a legal situation without even realizing that they had done anything wrong. This is likely the situation Google is facing this month after being informed by European regulators that their privacy policy was in violation of new European Union's data protection laws.

According to the EU's commissioner for justice, rules are currently being finalized by the European parliament and other EU countries to allow for a single EU data regulator that will have the authority to fine companies on behalf of all national watchdogs. And if the commissioner has it her way, she says, Google will be one of the first to receive the full two percent fine.

The fine would be based on Google's total revenue in 2012 which topped out at $50 billion. Although two percent may not seem like a lot, for Google that would equate to a $1 billion fine.

The commissioner says that the fine will be a consequence for Google's decision to ignore a warning by regulators in October to change its privacy policy. Google disagrees however, pointing out that it did not ignore the warning and has since amended its privacy policy to comply with the newer laws.

Although it appears like Google is not in immediate danger of incurring a fine, at present time the commissioner expects that the new rules could become law within a year's time which could spell out messy litigation for Google's legal department.

Source: Reuters News, "Google risks huge fine under new EU data rules: top official," Claire Davenport, Feb. 19, 2013

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