Fake online reviews could soon disappear in France. To achieve this, the repression of fraud may have just found the ultimate parade.
It has almost become automatic before an online purchase or a visit to an unknown merchant. All public places (or almost) are now entitled to their Google rating. From the GAFAM search engine, anyone can submit an online opinion on a business, a restaurant or even a medical center, a school or a prison. Functionality is now an integral part of our daily lives, but does not escape its limits.
Fake reviews have become commonplace on Google. Published by organized raids, simple dissatisfied customers, or by the merchant himself, the phenomenon has become widely democratized in recent years, to the point that it sometimes becomes difficult to trust the comments published. A simple negative comment can quickly ruin a reputation, and tarnish an entire business. On the other hand, a wave of rave reviews can quickly attract a new audience.
Good or bad, France wants to fight against fake reviews
Either way, fake reviews can dramatically affect a business’s business. A problem for the fight against the repression of fraud in France. Legally, they are liable to a fine of up to €75,000 for a natural person, and €375,000 for a company. In fact, the law is rarely applied, and the DGCCRF struggles to distinguish real opinions from fake ones.
It is with this in mind that the State formalized last month Polygraphe, a new software intended to fight against fraudulent opinions online. Examined by the CNIL on December 15, the tool will initially focus only on false positive comments posted by companies to boost their activity. The project, led by the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention, should be able to extract data from consumer reviews, and detect suspicious comments, in order to then deliver a more readable working database. to investigators.
And the personal data?
If Polygraphe wants to impose itself as the miracle solution to false opinions in France, it is already not unanimous. The data collected during its analyzes could indeed constitute a problematic breach of the right to privacy on the Internet. The software could quickly go before the Constitutional Council to determine whether or not it is suitable for use.
Indeed, the data scrapping, this technique of sucking up public data for the purpose of analysis, storage, or sometimes resale is not illegal, but suffers from an ambiguous legal definition. Article 323-3 of the Penal Code provides in particular that “The act of fraudulently introducing data into an automated processing system, extracting, holding, reproducing, transmitting, deleting or fraudulently modifying the data it contains is punishable by five years’ imprisonment and fine of €150,000”. It remains to be seen how the device will be received on the legal level.