Is Google My Business legit? By Arnaud Dimeglio, Lawyer, and Myriam Guerbaa, Jurist.

I) Google listing editor

The file created on the professionals can be on the initiative of the latter, or of the Google company. In any case, it appears that this sheet is 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 oppose it?

When the file contains personal data (surname, first name, address, image), notwithstanding the fact that it concerns professionals, the law of 1978 informatics and freedom seems to apply.

The CNIL considers that the data of professionals practicing under their own name constitute personal data within the meaning of article 2 of the law of January 6, 1978 (deliberation no. 2009-329).

The question then arises as to whether the professional could invoke his right to oppose the processing of his data (article 38 of the law).

This opposition appears in particular when the professional has not been informed of the creation of this file, and when he discovers it without his knowledge. Indeed, any data controller must inform the persons in charge of the processing of their personal data (article 32 of the law).

This opposition could also be legitimized by the fact that the professional cannot manage his file unless he “claims” it, in other words he creates a Google account. Similarly, 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 that uses a sign. Indeed, it is the investments, sometimes even the notoriety of the professional that are used by the company Google to promote its services.

Or the reuse, without purse, of investment is considered by the case law as an act of parasitism engaging the responsibility of its author on the basis of article 1240 (ex. 1382) of the Civil Code.

A shortfall that the professional could thus invoke to oppose the creation of his file.

Finally, Google My Business allows you to rate, evaluate, and give your opinion on the professional. This rating and evaluation system is open to anyone with a Google account. Is it legitimate to let anyone evaluate any professional?

Need we remind you that in the Note2be.com case, the magistrates considered that it was not fair, relevant and adequate to offer anyone the chance to rate 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 answer in its capacity as host of the opinions.

II) Google review host

The opinions given by users work in the same way as a review site, i.e. it is possible to leave a comment but the first point is to assign a score ranging from 1 to 5 stars. The surname and first name of the user are often not displayed, in favor of the use of a pseudonym.

Who hides behind an opinion? It can be a consumer, customer, who has actually benefited from the service, and expresses his dissatisfaction. But it may be that the pseudonym actually turns out to be a person who has never met the rated establishment, or even that a competitor uses this service to give his colleague bad publicity.

As a review host, Google is under an obligation to hold and store data allowing the identification of their authors.

It must communicate this data on request, which thus makes it possible to identify the authors of the opinions (article 6 of the law for Confidence in the Digital Economy of June 21, 2004).

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

These people, once, can themselves be held liable for the content of the opinions they have, as author, disseminated, and in particular in the event of damage to reputation. Sometimes the author of the review may not be identified. In this case, in the event of a criminal offence, it may be useful to file a complaint against X.

Google must also promptly remove any content of an unlawful nature (disparagement, threat, unlawful processing of personal data, etc.). A defect could be held liable (article 6 of the LCEN).

When this content contains an infringement of the law of July 29, 1881 (defamation, insult, etc.), article 93-3 of the law of July 29, 1982 on audiovisual communication should be applied.

Indeed, the space in which Internet users can publish opinions can be qualified as personal contribution space within the meaning of paragraph 5 of article 93-3.

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

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