France Demands $1.2 Billion from Google over Privacy

Google (GOOGL) is about to wrap up a challenging year in France. However, Google doesn’t break out revenue for every individual country it operates in. So, this means we don’t know exactly how much revenue or profit Google makes from its French operations. But we know this year France hit Google with fines exceeding $1.2 billion, some of it disputed.

Here’s how Google’s more than $1.2 billion bill came about this year.

France fines Google $57 million for breaching EU privacy law

France started hitting Google early this year. In January, the country fined Google $57 million on charges that it violated the European Union’s privacy law. In 2018, EU countries adopted a new set of privacy rules that spell out heavy fines for violators. The rules, called GDPR, expose companies to fines of up to 4.0% of their global revenue for violation.

French tax authority pursued Google for years over alleged tax evasion. Finally, Google decided to settle the tax dispute. In September, Google agreed to pay $1.0 billion to the French tax authority to put the tax evasion dispute behind it. Also, the settlement includes tax claims and fines.

Google takes $166 million blow over advertising dispute

This month, France fined Google about $166 million on charges that the company abused its market dominance. Specifically, France faulted the way Google changed and applied rules governing advertising on its platform. Google rejected the French antitrust fine and vowed to fight it in court.

Adding up the privacy fine, tax settlement, and antitrust fine, France demanded over $1.2 billion from Google in 2019.

France-Google friction far from over

Google’s friction with French authorities looks far from over even as 2019 wraps up. Currently, Google and the country are fighting over a new European copyright law. The dispute over the copyright law will continue into the new year as both sides dig in.

The other area of France-Google friction is a special taxi coming soon. Next month, France will impose a digital services tax on revenue of big tech companies operating in the country. The tax will apply at the rate of 3.0% of revenue generated in France. Google protested the French digital services tax, arguing it will be a recipe for disputes. Additionally, the Trump administration stands with America’s big tech like Google in their protest against French digital services tax.

Despite the troubles Google has faced in France and the risk of the challenges continuing into the new year, Google parent Alphabet stock gained about 30% this year.