Germany is leading the attack in the EU’s deepening privacy war against Google.
Late last Tuesday, a legal ruling levied by Hamburg data protection commissioner Johannes Caspar required that Google obtain Germans’ expressed permission in order to access their data, or face $1.27 million in fines.
“Our requirements aim at a fair balance between the concerns of the company and its users,” Caspar said in a statement. “The issue is up to Google now. The company must treat the data of its millions of users in a way that respects their privacy adequately while they use the various services of the company.”
This ruling furthers a trajectory that could harm the overseas advertising business of Google and all ad tech companies. Other points of concern for the international ad tech industry include a 2013 mandate, also spearheaded by Casper, preventing Google from collecting personal data from unencrypted German Wi-Fi networks on the grounds that data was collected without consent and could be used to construct advertising profiles.
And, most notably, Google came under scrutiny during the EU’s "Right to be Forgotten" ruling in May.
Others have felt the reverberations. Rumor has it that German software corporation SAP stalled its acquisition hunt to bolster its presence in ad tech because of the Right to be Forgotten ruling.
But businesses aren’t yet shying away from Germany, which is considered to be one of Europe’s most robust markets for ad tech. Those that are tempted enough to take the plunge, however, are taking a cautious yet calculated approach to their strategy there.