The new minister of transformation and the public service Stanislas Guerini, who replaces Amélie de Montchalin, does not have the right to manage the files relating to Alphabet and its subsidiaries – such as Google, Deepmind or Waymo – as well as those relating to hosting state data in the cloud. It is a decree of June 7, issued by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, which formalizes this ban.
In conflict of interest with Google
The politician cannot deal with these files because of a conflict of interest. Indeed, according to his file on the site of the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life (HATVP), his wife Marie-Luce Conrard works in the French subsidiary of Google Cloud. She is “director of strategy and operations, excluding public sector,” according to information on her LinkedIn account.
It is Elisabeth Borne who must now manage these subjects which have taken on particular importance for several months. Indeed, since the invalidation of the Privacy Shield by the Court of Justice of the European Union, the use of software marketed by American companies is questionable from a legal point of view. Indeed, being able to be transferred by the United States, the risk is that these data are examined by the national authorities. A possibility that violates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The cloud yes but not just any cloud
However, this is not a surprise for anyone: ministries and public institutions use office suites offered by American companies. This is how the former interministerial digital director (Dinum) – a service placed under the authority of the Minister of Transformation and the Public Service – prohibited the various ministries from using the Microsoft 365 offer (formerly Office 365) because it did not conform to the “Center Cloud” doctrine. This requires ministries and administrations to use only secure clouds that are immune to extra-EU regulations.
The National Commission for Computing and Liberties (Cnil) took a similar position in May 2021. It considered that it was now necessary to find alternative solutions to the collaborative tools published by American companies in higher education and of research. “Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals”, formerly known as “G Suite for Education”, is particularly used by higher education.