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Google was fined $57 million for violating Europe’s new data privacy laws

The fine is symbolic and it won’t leave much of a mark.

A man looks at his mobile phone. Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images

Google is the first big tech company to be fined under Europe’s strict new data privacy laws, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.

On Monday, France’s National Data Protection Commission, which is tasked with enforcing these privacy laws, announced that it was fining the search giant 50 million euros — roughly $57 million — because it was not clear enough about the data it collected from users and hadn’t gained their consent to use that data for targeted ads.

Google’s practices apparently ran afoul of the GDPR requirements, which call for tech companies to be clear about what data they are collecting and how it’s used. The law was implemented in May of last year in an effort to standardize privacy practices for tech companies that operate across the continent.

“People expect high standards of transparency and control from us,” a Google spokesperson told Recode in a statement. “We’re deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR. We’re studying the decision to determine our next steps.”

By most standards, $57 million is a sizable fine. But by Google standards, it’s miniscule. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, reported nearly $34 billion in revenue last quarter alone. That means the fine was well under 1 percent of the company’s quarterly revenue.

More importantly, though, it shows that European regulators are willing and able to punish tech companies that don’t comply with GDPR, which means that companies including Facebook, Twitter, and Apple can and should be on alert.

It’s clear that Facebook, arguably Google’s chief rival, is paying close attention to its role in Europe. Late last year, Facebook hired Nick Clegg, the former British deputy prime minister, to lead all policy and communications at the company, a clear indication that Facebook is taking its role in Europe — and the privacy laws there — more seriously than before.

This article originally appeared on

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