Google loses fight over public shaming in France

Chris Davies - Feb 7, 2014
Google loses fight over public shaming in France

Google‘s attempts to escape privacy sanctions in France that will force it to publish an embarrassing mea-culpa on its site have failed, with the French courts insisting there’ll be no getting around the public message. Regulators had already leveled at €150,000 ($204k) fine at Google for changing its privacy policies in ways that contravened French law; however, Google took issue with the idea of publicly announcing that penalty on its homepage, arguing that it would cause irreparable damage to its reputation.

According to the court, Google must post a notice regarding the fine on its homepage, in a minimum of 13 point font and in the Arial typeface. That announcement has to be live for at least 48 hours and located just beneath the search button.

Last month, Google confirmed that it intended to appeal the decision, but a court today rejected its pleas, the WSJ reports.

Google will still appeal the overall decision by the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) but said today that it will now post the order in the meantime. The appeal could take as long as six months to be processed, it’s suggested.

It’s not the first time that regulators and courts have turned to public shaming to curtail powerful tech companies. Back in 2012, Apple was forced to post a notice on its UK site publicizing the outcome of a case against Samsung where courts had sided with the Korean company, pointing out that the judgement ruled that Samsung wasn’t copying Apple’s designs.

Apple attempted a little creativity in how it complied with the order, and was promptly given a renewed penalty by the angry judge. It’s unclear when Google’s message will be added to the French site.

Must Read Bits & Bytes