Google forced to show privacy fail message on homepage

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.

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.

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