Via Bloomberg Technology

Facebook Inc.Google and Apple Inc. are all at risk of hefty fines if the European data protection regulator probing them finds they violated European Union privacy rules.

Helen Dixon, Ireland’s data protection commissioner, said she has about 20 investigations open into big technology companies, including Twitter Inc.and Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram platforms.

A number of these cases are “well advanced” and could land on her desk for a decision in the next couple of weeks. That will kick-start the process toward potential fines and it will be “inevitable” for her to consider penalties “where infringements are identified,” she said.

“It would be a most surprising outcome if, of the 20 big tech investigations we have underway, fines were not a feature of the process,” Dixon said in an interview in London, after speaking at Bloomberg’s Sooner Than You Think technology conference.

Google has so far received the biggest penalty of 50 million euros ($56.6 million) since European regulators were empowered last year by the new EU privacy rules to levy fines of as much as 4% of annual sales. In that case, French officials found two types of violations of EU law, one for lack of transparency and information, the other for not having a legal basis to process user data for personalized advertisements.


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