The way to get Google to comply with data privacy laws is to hit the company where it hurts: its bank balance, the European Union's Justice Commissioner said yesterday.
In France Google was fined €150,000 by data protection authorities, while in Spain the search giant was fined €900,000. Those fines, the maximum allowed, were just "pocket money" to Google, Reding said.
"Europeans need to get serious," she said. "If a company has broken the rules and failed to mend its ways, this should have serious consequences."
Under new data protection laws proposed by Reding, sanctions could be up to 2% of global annual turnover. In the Google case, that would have meant a fine of €731 million (£600 million).
Google remains under investigation by authorities in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Great Britain.
Meanwhile, the future of data protection enforcement at the EU level remains uncertain, as the mandate of the current European Data Protection Supervisor has expired with no successor appointed. The term of office of the incumbent, Peter Hustinx, ran out last week. His head of communication, Olivier Rossignol, said that Hustinx had spoken to the European Commission and would meet the European Parliament's justice committee this week with a view to possibly staying on the role until a replacement can be found.