Europe's largest data-protection authorities have launched a joint action against Google to force it to remedy alleged breaches of EU privacy rules by the search giant.

The move by data-protection authorities from Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands is the first co-ordinated and formal procedure by EU states against a single company on privacy, underscoring European frustration with Google.

European watchdogs can currently impose only fines below €1m but new EU-wide rules could soon empower them to inflict on companies penalties up to 2 per cent of their global annual turnover.

In Google's case that would add up to about $760m, based on its 2011 revenues. The new rules could be approved by the end of this year by EU lawmakers and member states.

The move comes five months after a probe led byCNIL, the French watchdog representing EU regulators, concluded that Google had failed to give users adequate information about how their personal data were being used across its multiple platforms.

Google responded that its privacy policy respected European law. "We have engaged fully with the data-protection authorities involved throughout this process, and we'll continue to do so going forward," it said in a statement.

The Mountain View-based group has faced intense criticism for its privacy policy since it first moved to merge customer data held across its various services such as Gmail and YouTube, which alone holds the data of more than 1bn users.

The US group said its new privacy terms, which combine 60 former policies into one for all its customers, would allow it to provide a better service. Google Now, which provides intuitive updates based on calendar entries, location patterns and e-mails, is one example of a service making use of the new approach.
这家美国集团称,其新版隐私条款将以前的60项政策整合为一项面向所有客户的政策,使其能够提供更好的服务。基于日历条目、位置规律和电子邮件内容提供智能信息提示的Google Now,就是使用这种新政策的服务之一。

The case is being closely watched by several US tech companies and in particular Microsoft, which is currently being investigated by European regulators on issues relating to its online services.