Is Google My Business Legitimate? By Arnaud Dimeglio, lawyer, and Myriam Guerbaa, lawyer.

I) Google Listing Editor

The file created on professionals can be created on the initiative of the latter or of the company Google. In any case, it seems that this magazine was published by the company Google. The question of the legality of the sheet arises when the professional has not consented to its creation.

Can he resist it?

When the file contains personal data (surname, first name, address, picture), despite the fact that they are professionals, the 1978 law on informatics and freedom seems to apply.

The CNIL is of the opinion that the data of professionals who practice under their own name are personal data within the meaning of Article 2 of the Law of 6 January 1978 (deliberation no. 2009-329).

The question then arises whether the professional can invoke his right to object to the processing of his data (Article 38 of the Act).

This opposition appears to be legitimate in particular if the professional was not informed of the creation of this file and if he discovered it without his knowledge. Indeed, each controller must inform interested parties about the processing of their personal data (Article 32 of the law).

This opposition could also be legitimized by the fact that the professional can only manage his file if he ‘claims’ it, in other words if he creates a Google account. Likewise, is it legitimate for Google to use personal data, even if it is professional, to promote its other services (Google Maps, Google Streetview, Google+ and associated searches)?

This question also arises when the professional is not a natural person but a legal person, a trader or a company using a sign. Indeed, it is the investments, sometimes even the fame of the professional that the company Google uses to promote its services.

However, wallet-free reuse of investments is considered by case law as an act of parasitism that falls under the responsibility of the author under Article 1240 (ex. 1382) of the Civil Code.

A shortcoming that the professional could therefore invoke to oppose the creation of his file.

Finally, Google My Business allows you to rate, evaluate, and voice the professional. This rating and evaluation system is open to anyone with a Google account. Is it legitimate to have someone evaluate a professional?

Should we recall that in the Note2be.com case, the magistrates felt that it was not fair, relevant and appropriate to offer someone to assess a teacher?

In its capacity as publisher of the file, the Google company therefore has to deal with many questions. It will also have to respond in its capacity as host of the opinions.

II) Google review host

User opinions work in the same way as a review site, i.e. it is possible to leave a comment, but the primary purpose is to assign a score ranging from 1 to 5 stars. The user’s last name and first name are often not displayed, in favor of using a pseudonym.

Who is hiding behind an opinion? It could be a consumer, customer, who has actually benefited from the service and expresses their displeasure. But it could be that the pseudonym actually betrays someone who has never visited the well-known establishment, or even that a competitor is using this service to give his colleague bad publicity.

As a review host, Google is required to retain and store information that identifies the authors.

It must provide this information on request, thus making it possible to identify the authors of the opinions (Article 6 of the law on confidence in the digital economy of 21 June 2004).

The identification of the authors of the opinions will thus allow to determine their quality: competitor, employee, customer, third party, etc.

Once identified, these persons may be held responsible for the content of the opinions they have disseminated as authors, and in particular in the event of reputational damage. Sometimes the author of the review cannot be identified. In that case, it may be useful to report a criminal offense against X.

Google must also immediately remove all illegal content (disparagement, threats, unlawful processing of personal data, etc.). Failing this, it can be held liable (Article 6 LCEN).

If this content infringes the law of 29 July 1881 (defamation, insult, etc.), Article 93-3 of the law of 29 July 1982 on audiovisual communications must be applied.

After all, the space in which internet users can publish opinions can be qualified as space for personal contributions within the meaning of paragraph 5 of Article 93-3.

The Google My Business service thus raises many questions about its legality, which it will undoubtedly be up to the courts to decide.

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