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back to article France demands that Google post badge of shame on its pages

Officials in France will force Google to display a notice on its French home page of a recent privacy court ruling against the company. The French data-protection authority Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL) said on Friday that the Conseil d’Etat – the administrative court – had denied Google's appeal …

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Anonymous Coward

Will they copy Apple and make it so you would need a 30" monitor to actually see it on the homepage? The French have another victory by this, when you search for French victories using Google, there will actually be a victory listed.

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french balls

Seems not - the notice appears on my smartphone which is considerably less than 30in. However it seems the French have considerably than 30in balls as they're quite good at this stuff.

It hurts google more to have the notice than a pathetic 150k fine. It's not like they're now the second biggest valued by market cap is it. Oh wait...

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They're being pretty straightforward with it and looks like they're using a center formatted pt14 font. Text is: "Communiqué: la formation restreinte de la Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés a condamné la société Google à 150 000 euros d'amende pour manquements à la loi « informatique et libertés ». Décision accessible à l'adresse suivante: http://www.cnil.fr/linstitution/missions/sanctionner/Google/"

Google translate of that is:

"Release: the Restricted National Commission on Informatics and Liberties has condemned the company Google 150 000 euro fine for breaches "and Freedoms" law. Decision reached at the following address: http://www.cnil.fr/linstitution/missions/sanctionner/Google/"

That's about as blunt as it gets - I don't suppose they chose the wording...

Take a look at http://google.fr if you're curious on exactly how it's displayed.

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Re: french balls

Yeah. For some reason the French have never really got the message that multinational corporations are the new de facto rulers. The rest of the world kow-tows to any big company with a lot of lobbying dollars, but the French just shrug and carry on pushing companies around.

I've never really got the whole "French Surrender" thing that Americans so love. I mean it really took off because the French were one of the few nations that actually stood up to the USA in the UN over Iraq. For which the American media went beserk and started calling them cowards. Yeah, for not giving the USA what it wanted! (there's gratitude for helping out in the War of Independence).

I mean the chief surrender the French are known for historically was against a fully militarized Germany and if it's okay to be beaten by anyone, that has to be near the top of the list. I suppose you can throw in Waterloo (Germans again) and Agincourt if you like (more a technological shift than any issues of courage or resolve. I mean what are you going to do - just keep charging at longbows and dying in droves like General Haig sent British soldiers against machine guns in WWI?).

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Re: french balls

While I support the French in their move against Google and generally admire their whole national-interest-first-and-the-world-be-damned attitude (I think the world would be better if more civilised nations behaved like that), got to disagree with a couple of your points there.

> I mean it really took off because the French were one of the few nations that actually stood up to the USA in the UN over Iraq.

The French, like other NATO nations, after 9/11 invoked and signed Article 5 of the NATO charter which asserted that an attack on one is an attack on all. That clause had always previously been understood to be a de facto declaration of war -- that was the NATO security guarantee that protected Western Europe from Soviet invasion, after all: attack France and you're at war with with the whole of NATO, including the USA. America spent fifty years pouring their money into military spending on the understanding that they intended to use their military to back up other NATO members, then discovered that the rest of NATO regarded Article 5 as a way of trying to constrain American military action when America was attacked. And the attempt to constrain American action started with Afghanistan, not Iraq. I'm not commenting on the rights or wrongs of this, but pointing out that, had France wanted to stand up to -- i.e. actually oppose -- the US, they could have refused to sign Article 5. Instead, they signed a declaration that they would stand with the US militarily and then made it clear that they regarded that declaration as meaningless.

The whole affair brought long-standing French attitudes to America to the attention of the American media and thus the general American public, and I can see why they might have been pissed off by what they saw. The word "American" is near-enough an insult in France, and quite a significant part of their culture is built around rejecting and despising everything about a country that has never acted as anything but an ally to France. And then that book claiming that 9/11 was faked became a best-seller in France, and then opinion polls revealed that a huge proportion of the French public actually believed it (I forget the precise stats, but it was way more than fringe conspiracy-theorist nutters; it was a mainstream belief). That's what pissed the Americans off.

And why the hell shouldn't it? Imagine that 3000 French people were killed in an attack and opinion polls revealed that, say, 20% of Americans believed the French government had faked the attack and another 10% believed the government had carried out the attack themselves. Would the French insult America? Even more than usual, I mean. Damn fucking right they would.

> there's gratitude for helping out in the War of Independence

After the War of Independence, French soldiers and citizens were welcome in the USA. After World War 2, American soldiers were expelled from France by De Gaulle, as if they were invaders. There's gratitude.

> I mean the chief surrender the French are known for historically was against a fully militarized Germany and if it's okay to be beaten by anyone, that has to be near the top of the list.

Yes, but the French also hold the distinction of being the only Nazi-occupied country that did not require German assistance to round up Jews and load them onto cattle trucks (The Nazis themselves were rather surprised by this). They didn't just lose militarily; they surrendered ideologically. Not all of them, obviously, but enough for a reputation.

> I mean what are you going to do - just keep charging at longbows and dying in droves like General Haig sent British soldiers against machine guns in WWI?).

This is a myth. British military tactics evolved faster during WW1 than probably any other time in our history. Tactics that failed got updated. Generals did not keep sending men charging against machine guns again and again and again despite repeated failure; they developed new and innovative and successful ways of trying to suppress the machine-gun fire. Quite apart from anything else, how do you think an army that never changed its losing tactics won a war, exactly?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: french balls

> Yes, but the French also hold the distinction of being the only Nazi-occupied country that did not require

> German assistance to round up Jews and load them onto cattle trucks (The Nazis themselves were

> rather surprised by this). They didn't just lose militarily; they surrendered ideologically. Not all of them,

> obviously, but enough for a reputation.

For all the antisemitism of *a few* French, as a whole, they did a rather bad job at it (which is good). While the number is still tragically too high, the fact that the Nazis didn't do it in their horrendously efficient way means that more survived than they would have otherwise (and than did in those countries were Nazis took charge). The collaboration was not as enthusiastic as those few crazy French in charge of it would have liked. Certainly not a wholehearted ideological embrace by the entire country of that folly.

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Re: h4m0ny Re: french balls

"....the chief surrender the French are known for historically was against a fully militarized Germany...." Complete cobblers! Not only did the Fwench have more soldiers and more tanks than the Germans in 1940, the Germans were far from militarized. Even in 1942, when it become obvious to the German Generals that they had bitten off more than they could chew in Russia, Hitler refused to put the Germany economy on a proper war footing. However, the Fwench economy had been on a war footing since 1936 when the idiotic Leon Blum declared he would nationalise the armaments industry partially as a means of reducing unemployment. It was just the socialist Popular Front government (and later Daladier's liberal meddling) had so screwed up their industrial base by rediculous forced mergers and geographical restructuring of the factories and companies, that Fwench tanks in 1940 often had guns but no radios, and their new aircraft often had no engines or no propellers or no gunsights! And the Fwench Communists were only too happy to saboutage what little did work, on the orders of Stalin. Chronic poor morale amongst the majority of the Fwench soldiers meant they were only too happy to surrender. The Fwench weren't beaten by a "fully-millitirized" Germany, they beat themselves with poor leadership, moronic political meddling and an almost complete willingness to let the Germans win. Indeed, the Fwench were more than willing to hide behind the Maginot Line in 1939 and let Poland fall, despite their treaty pledge to attack Germany if Germany attacked Poland, and despite Hitler having left virtually no troops in western Germany. The Fwench - if they had grown a pair - could have won the War in 1939 before the British Experditionary Force even arrived, and long before the Yanks needed to get involved.

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Sometimes I feel the french have a bigger cock than the rest of the EU, and sometimes I feel quite happy about it.

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Have one, or are one?

Seriously, Google has a number of products, they decided to let them talk to one another, and consolidated their privacy policy to be consistent. Yes, they're all still doing the same ad-serving stuff as before, but now they're in the same drawer. The French are being plonkers, IMO.

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>... The French are being plonkers, IMO.

I wouldn't say that it is only a) about the combining of data (new TOS) and/or b) the French (CNIL).

See the letter to Google from OCT 2012, signed by just about every (?) EU data protection authority: http://www.cnil.fr/fileadmin/documents/en/20121016-letter_google-article_29-FINAL.pdf (from http://www.cnil.fr/english/news-and-events/news/article/googles-new-privacy-policy-incomplete-information-and-uncontrolled-combination-of-data-across-ser/)

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WTF?

So, I read through the letter, and suppose the points are all well and good and all. But.

I don't know of any company in the world that does those things, or ever has. MS sure as Hell don't. It feels kind of "Do all this stuff just because we say so", just to score points on them. Is this SOP for any company that operates in France, having this sort of interactive "how we protect and use your data"? Totally serious, here.

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In two minds

I'm divided on this one. Am no fan of Google, but am generally no fan of the French either. Although I do agree that they seem to have bigger balls than most when standing up to some of the more cretinous EU rulings...

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It is easier for Google for sure. But, the point is that all of its services started at different point of time and the users were not initially aware that they'd be forced to be consumed (yes, you know you are their product bro) by their other products.

I will dare to say that any agreement change in case of a vital tool (like emails) must be opt-in. But you are forced to accept that as take it or leave it. This is what is defined as ransom.

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Anonymous Coward

Les Froggies only do things for the benefit of Les Froggies

The commonly flout EU law in all manner of areas.

The 'gallic shrug' is alive and well on the other side of 'La Manche'.

One of these days they are going to come unstuck in a really big way.

My friends in Germany are rather fed up with them stopping all sorts of reforms in the Eurozone. Thankfully that is something they can't blame on us Brits.

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If the CNIL demand goes ahead ...

.. Google can comply and follow it with their own announcement (in polite language and larger font) saying what they think of it. I'm sure someone can think up a suitable parody meaning of CNIL for them.

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Re: If the CNIL demand goes ahead ...

I recall a UK judge not being very agreeable to Apple tinkering with the intent of his order, so doing a rebuttal would have to be extremely well worded. Avoiding any implicit "we didn't actually break the law" type words, because according to the ruling they must've done?

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Happy

To obfuscate the ruling Google should simply use ...

Google Translate!

Might even make it humourous.

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Re: To obfuscate the ruling Google should simply use ...

Great idea! They could change the white background to white with legible, readable grey text in the background repeating the apology. In stacks of languages (including French), one after the other. Maybe have a google translate link on there too.

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They could take the Sun's approach

Which when asked to apologise about a story they got wrong here in Wales, decided that the best way to present their apology was in Welsh (only!).

The funny thing about this was the Welsh speakers in the Assembly didn't get that the joke was on them, and THANKED the Sun for doing this :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Occasionally it occurs to me that it might be interesting to see what would happen if Google simply declined to display the required notice - by declining to serve pages to IP addresses in France. They are not, after all, a public utility.

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I also ponder a company withdrawing their products for sale in a region. It would be fun to witness but it's unlikely to happen. Taking Google for example - their business model requires them to continuously find ways to expand the population of users they collect data about, and also increase the amount of data they collect per user, in order to increase the value of the data they provide their customers. Deliberately reducing the user population by pulling the plug on the French, for example, would not be in the best interests of Google and their shareholders.

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Anonymous Coward

Big businesses are not unlike politicians. They happily take their foot in mouth.

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Windows

I suppose

the lost revenue from all those adverts on all the google services would cost em far more than some paltry pocket change fine...

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Better yet, they could replace the Google.fr homepage with that ridiculous message*, and remove the search (and all other) option from it, replacing it with a link to Google.com.

* Which is obviously designed with the sole intent of damaging Google' business in France.

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Anonymous Coward

I think if Google were to so publicly flaunt an order given by a nations court you would have some people saying "Yeah - stupid court! Google is awesome" - but I also believe many people would have a reaction more akin to "Arrogant Google! F**k em." - Especially if the national media covered the story and politicians came out against Google.

People generally give the benefit of the doubt, so when Google is convicted of something, people do generally give them a chance. If Google were to flip the bird and get 'childish' about it, I think they'd lose a lot of French users, simply from the way their reaction is viewed.

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FAIL

I can't imagine a circumstance where Google would do something like that. Off the top of my head, Amazon's the only large internet company that's been willing to forgo profits over what they consider an immoral or unfair situation involving a government. They've shut down affiliate web-store access in states where the state requires Amazon to play the role of an unpaid tax-collection contractor.

In the corporate culture at Google, greed has been fetishized uber alles. Those jerks wouldn't be able to pull the plug on their French page: their foaming-at-the-mouth craze to obtain as much wealth as possible has made them co-censors in places like China and literally made them "internet bullies" to huge numbers of their customers. After what they pulled in November, I won't do business with them, ever again.

They're the worst company I've ever encountered.

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Another example.

> Amazon's the only large internet company that's been willing to forgo profits over what they consider an immoral or unfair situation involving a government.

They're not an Internet company, but HSBC's response to the USA's appalling extra-territorial FATCA legislation was to pull all their business out of the US -- which is a pretty bloody big sacrifice for a bank. Every other bank is capitulating.

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their foaming-at-the-mouth craze to obtain as much wealth as possible has made them co-censors in places like China and literally made them "internet bullies" to huge numbers of their customers

And you think they'd miss all the money they make off off placing adverts on their search page... I think I might see the flaw in that argument.

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Drunk

with power.

While I don't agree with google's actions, forcing them to display the ruling on the homepage is feels lscarily like an abuse of power. Bureaucrat willy-waving.

Presumably the French require petty thieves to walk down the street with placards round their neck detailing their crimes? if not, what is the logical difference here?

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Re: Drunk

No, but if you're going to hire one it will come up in a criminal record check.

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Pint

Re: abuse of power?

No, they are just teaching Google being more social. Actually, they should have asked Google to post this on G+, Picasa, Drive, Docs and each service involved in the merged policy.

Even better, does G+ has some feature equivalent to FB Timeline?

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Re: Drunk

>>While I don't agree with google's actions, forcing them to display the ruling on the homepage is feels lscarily like an abuse of power. Bureaucrat willy-waving.

Why is taking someone's money (a paltry sum to Google in this instance, btw) not an abuse of power, but publically shaming someone is? They are both punishments enforced by a body with the power of coercion (a government). Why is one acceptable to you but the other not? In some cultures (including Britain in olden days), that's actually the more common punishment than fines or prison sentences. In this specific instance, any sum that was remotely proportional to the crime would be irrelevant to one as rich as Google. A parking ticket for Larry Ellison. And if you do scale up the fine just because of who does it, then you're in a whole different territory of problems. But a public notice, that can be the same punishment for anyone and it scales inherently according to the size of the perpetrator's public image without you having to change the sentence at all.

>>Presumably the French require petty thieves to walk down the street with placards round their neck detailing their crimes? if not, what is the logical difference here?

Well there isn't much of a logical difference and many cultures do use such punishment. People were once branded for serious crimes in Europe, in Britain people were locked in the stocks so people could walk past and mock them. (I think fruit throwing is exaggerated for modern humour). Again, the question is why taking someone's money (e.g. a police officer marching you to a cash point for being drunk and loud) is acceptable punishment to you but publically stating what they'd done is inhumane.

I think I know the reason - it's because it triggers the instinct of forcing someone to say something being wrong. But that instinct comes from things like torture to recant your beliefs (Gallileo, et al.) or show trials where someone is forced to admit to something they didn't do. It is not the case here where Google did break the law and are only being told to tell people that they did. They're not being forced to renounce Protestantism or confess membership of the Communist Party or similar.

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The stocks.

> in Britain people were locked in the stocks so people could walk past and mock them. (I think fruit throwing is exaggerated for modern humour)

You're quite the optimist about human nature. In fact, the crowd would throw rotten vegetables, manure, sticks, and might well piss on you. If you had enemies, they could arrange for men in the crowd to throw stones. The pillory was generally more dangerous than the stocks, apparently (no idea why), but men died in both.

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WTF?

Appeal?

Why are Google bothering? They are a successful Yank company operating in France so the Fwench are going to hate them regardless of the legalities. Google should just pay the fine, run the notice for a week, and then carry on showing the Fwench why they are irrelevant on the 'Net.

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Renault

Next time Renault break a law, I'm expecting stickers across the steering wheel notifying us.

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Anonymous Coward

Could have a nice Google doodle too, the two Os replaced by handcuffs.

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What no scarlet G!

Don't know but if the French are like us, Americans that is, any government warning is met with ridicule.

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Re: What no scarlet G!

I'm a big fan of the American national mythology of utter disrespect for government. America would be a far better place if that mythology were remotely accurate.

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