US and French bodies set to charge Google

GOOGLE is facing new probes from prosecutors on both sides of the Atlantic, with US and French officials set to add to an EU investigation into the web giant.

The French information commissioner’s office, CNIL, is this week set to reveal the outcome of a months-long probe into Google over its use of personal data that could see it fined hundreds of millions of dollars, while the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may join the European Commission (EC) in bringing an antitrust case against the company.

EC competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia has already told Google to change the way it displays searches after finding that it was displaying its own price comparison, maps and reviews higher up in search results at the expense of similar services. Google could be fined up to 10 per cent of global revenues, or $3.8bn (£2.4bn) by the EC if it fails to satisfy European guidelines, and the search giant now faces a similar case from the FTC, with the majority of commissioners believed to be convinced that Google has abused its dominant position in the search market.

CNIL, along with other data commissioners including the UK’s, is also expected to blast Google, this time for failing to adequately notify users over changes to its privacy policy.

Earlier in the year, Google started to share users’ personal data between the company’s different services, including YouTube, Gmail and its fledgling Google Plus social network, in order to target adverts more effectively.

The cross-nation investigation could see Google handed extra fines of up to two per cent of total revenue if new European legislation allowing national authorities to increase the charges they can levy is brought in next year.

Google said it was confident that it complied with EU law.