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French court orders Google to display fine for privacy breach

A Google logo is reflected on the screen of a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone in this photo illustration taken in Prague January 31, 2014. REUT
A Google logo is reflected on the screen of a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone in this photo illustration taken in Prague January 31, 2014. REUT

PARIS (Reuters) - Google will have to display on its French search page a notice saying it has been fined by the local data-protection watchdog over how user information is tracked and stored, France's top administrative court ruled on Friday.

The U.S. search engine said it would comply with the order but would keep fighting the 150,000-euro ($204,000) fine issued last month by privacy watchdog CNIL.

CNIL has objected to Google's method of combining data collected on individual users across services such as YouTube, Gmail and social network Google+. The move towards broad storage was introduced by Google in March 2012 and combined 60 privacy policies into one, giving users no means to opt out.

The web giant appealed the CNIL's fine last month as well as the order to post a notice of the sanction on its google.fr homepage for 48 hours. Google specifically asked the Conseil d'Etat, France's top administrative court, to suspend that order while it re-examines the case.

On Friday, the Conseil d'Etat ruled that there was not enough urgency nor proof of damage to Google's reputation to warrant such a suspension. This means Google will have to post the CNIL's decision on its French homepage even while it keeps fighting it in court.

"We've engaged fully with the CNIL throughout this process to explain our privacy policy and how it allows us to create simpler, more effective services," a Google spokesman said in an e-mailed statement.

"We will comply with the order to post the notice, but we'll also continue with our appeal before the Conseil d'Etat."

Spain, Britain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have also opened similar cases against Google, arguing that its privacy policy breached local rules protecting consumers on how their personal data is processed and stored.

(Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic and Natalie Huet; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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