Google Gets In Trouble w/ CNIL

  • by Arlo Gilbert
  • · posted on February 17, 2022
  • · 4 min read
Google Gets In Trouble w/ CNIL

It's funny the things that we remember about our childhood. In the summer of 1983, I was seven years old, and although I don't recall a lot about that year, two things are forever seared into my memory. First, "Every Breath You Take" by The Police was the number one hit of the year. It was on a heavy rotation and appealed to music fans of all ages.

The other memory I have from that summer was that a gang of 9-year-old girls thought it would be funny to dunk my head in the water at the community pool to prove that they were stronger than me (which is still easy to do). Around the 20th dunk, I became convinced that the end was nigh. Our adult supervision was busy enjoying cocktails and grilling hotdogs while I quietly resigned to the irony that Sting might be crooning about breath while I could not catch one.

Fast forward many years (including an arguably lousy couple of decades for pop music), and I'm proud to report that I survived that trauma, although I can no longer stand The Police. But now, as Google repeatedly gets its proverbial head dunked in the waters of data privacy enforcement actions again in less than a month, I think I can imagine how Google's legal & compliance team must feel each time they come up for a breath. The French DPA (CNIL) and NYOB, in a true "hold my beer" moment, piled on to Austria's finding that a website’s use of Google Analytics violates the GDPR and that Google Analytics is effectively illegal in France as well.

What does this mean for Google and the broader MarTech ecosystem?

NYOB has a strong opinion on the topic: "In the long run, there seem to be two options: Either the US adapts baseline protections for foreigners to support their tech industry, or US providers will have to host foreign data outside of the United States."

Unfortunately, building infrastructure outside of the United States may not be sufficient. If a US company hosts data outside of the US, but that data is still subject to long-arm jurisdiction of US surveillance, will it still be a potential violation of the GDPR? We at Osano and the rest of the privacy community wait with bated breath to see whether the EU regulators and data protection authorities will provide more clarity and whether real progress can be made while the US surveillance laws and federal privacy protections remain unchanged.

The recent slew of rulings against big tech do raise a big question: Is GDPR, with all of its good intent driving us towards a set of nationalized Internets where the EEA has an entirely separate infrastructure and ecosystem in the same way that China has effectuated its network (albeit through less altruistic intents in the eyes of the West)?

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Robert Bateman from GRC World Forums put together an excellent long-form piece on the current situation and shared his opinions on the potential impact.

 

There is a lot that is uncertain right now. Rest easy though, friends; one thing is for sure, as we all hold our collective breath waiting to see how this drama plays out, Sting is still richer than all of us and probably more tired of that song than I am. If I were a betting man, I'd wager that you'll have an earworm soon.

Until next week,
-Arlo

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About The Author · Arlo Gilbert

Arlo Gilbert is the CEO & co-founder of Osano. An Austin, Texas native, he has been building software companies for more than 20 years in categories including telecom, payments, procurement, and compliance. In 2005 Arlo invented voice commerce, he has testified before congress on technology issues, and is a frequent speaker on data privacy rights.