Since Europe adopted new internet privacy laws in May, companies that handle consumer data have operated in much the same vein as they did before. Yes, several overseas publishers have blocked European citizens from accessing their websites, but, despite the threat of heavy penalties, most businesses that deal in online information have concluded that little has changed.
A legal judgment in Paris this week may shake them out of their complacency. On Monday, France’s privacy watchdog fined Google €50 million for failing to properly disclose how it gleans personal information from its search engine and other services, such as YouTube and Gmail. The ruling marked the first substantial penalty under the new privacy regime, the General Data Protection Regulation. It will not be the last.