Google forced to show privacy fail message on homepage

Google forced to show privacy fail message on homepage

Summary: A French judge has refused to suspend an order obliging Google to publish a notice saying it had been fined for breaches of the French data protection act.

TOPICS: Privacy, Google, EU

Google has failed in its attempt to overturn a ruling requiring it to publicise being fined for breaches of the French data protection act.

Earlier this year, the company was fined €150,000 by France's data protection watchdog, CNIL, after it failed to address the regulator's concerns that its unified privacy policy was breaking French data protection law.

The unified policy, which consolidated more than 60 separate privacy documents, came into force in March 2012 despite concern from European regulators that it violated the European Directive on Data Protection.

Alongside the fine, CNIL also ruled that Google had to display a notice about the €150,000 ruling, and a link to CNIL's statement on the case, on its homepage for at least 48 hours.

Google is appealing against the fine, and this week asked France's Conseil d'Etat to put its obligation to display the statement on hold until the appeal process had run its course. The company said putting such a notice on its homepage would cause "irreparable damage to its reputation".

Not so, ruled the Conseil d'Etat. According to the court, Google did not prove that publishing the notice in question would cause such damage, and the company's request that the ruling be suspended was rejected.

In addition, Conseil d'Etat judge said that Google also has the option of alerting its users to the fact it disagreed with the CNIL ruling when publishing the notice on its homepage.

Google had not responded to request for comment at the time of publication.

More on Google and privacy

Topics: Privacy, Google, EU

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  • Scarlet lettering

    At least they didn't get the guillotine.
  • outrageous!

    this is tortuos bussines interference!
    LlNUX Geek
    • No. It's not.

      It's a court order. Google's own scarlet letter. LMAO!
    • By that reasoning...

      if I run over somebody in my car whilst out on business and kill them, then I can't be prosecuted, because that would be tortuos (torturous?) business interference?

      Google broke the law and are being punished for it, how is that business interference? They were given plenty of warning before they implemented the changes that it would not be compliant with European data protection law and they had months to come up with another solution. They ignored the warnings. They also ignored the additional warnings after they implemented the changes to come up with another solution or face prosecution.

      It sounds like they make more money out of the combined privacy statement, by cross pollinating data between the different services than they feared to lose through fines and lawyer fees...
  • World's smallest violin.

    "The company said putting such a notice on its homepage would cause 'irreparable damage to its reputation.'"

    I'm playing the world's saddest song on the world's smallest violin.

    The purpose of the law is to punish wrongdoing, not to manage a business' reputation.
    • Exactly

      If they thought that it would affect their business reputation, they shouldn't have broken the law in the first place.

      If Google 'can't do the time', they shouldn't do the crime.

      They were given plenty of warning before the change and given a reasonable amount of time after the change to address the complaint. Instead they ignored it and now have to face the consequences.

      European data protection law is very complex, but it is something every company doing business in the EU zone has to deal with. I work for a small IT company in Germany and I am the company's data protection officer. There are a lot of things that make life harder for the company, you have to think seriously about new products and new processes, to ensure they are legal.

      Why should Google be exempt from this? Especially as they are dealing with millions of users.
  • I see Google wants to be Apple here...

    Apple was forced to put up a similar notice on their UK site and they too refused, then agreed, but posted a notification that essentially said 'we have to post this because the judge who forced us to is a butthead, so here's some PR' and then had to be reminded that they're not above the law.

    This one was shorter, but really - business have to get over themselves. If you want to have the rights of a person - you have to have the responsibilities of a person as well. And that includes obeying the law.
    • Yep

      and they put a bit of JavaScript on the site to ensure that the notice had to be scrolled down to. Which also got them a telling off from the judge.
  • Too bad

    I would hope it be ordered to display the warning on too.