The creation of data files enabling all players in a given business sector, whether credit institutions or professional lenders, to obtain information on risks linked to personal solvency and credit worthiness is followed up by CNIL with sharp vigilance in view of the obvious risks of social exclusion for the individuals concerned.
The question of the legitimacy and proportionality of introducing a “centralised positive credit record” addresses both the issues of breach of privacy and of cost and efficiency. The Commission has always refused to recognise any legitimacy to the implementation of such centralised records in the absence of any specific legal framework (see Report on “Centrales Positives” of January 2005; Activity Report 2005).
It considers that the lawmaker alone has competence to decide on the social usefulness of a “positive record” as related to credit issues, and to define the purposes and contents of such a database. In line with this stance, CNIL refused to authorise the creation of a centralised credit record requested by Experian (Decision of 8 March 2007).
CNIL further refused to authorise the company Infobail to process two databases intended for information to real estate professionals, related to inventories of tenants with unpaid rents and of tenants meeting their rent payment obligations. The Commission considered that such data records could violate the “legally enforceable right to housing” voted by lawmakers who have sole competence to decide on the compilation of both “negative” and “positive” records in housing matters (Decision of 10 July 2007).
The rejection was based on three grounds :
CNIL has indeed authorised several subsidiaries of banking groups, specialised in consumer credit (Crédit Agricole in 2005 with Finaref and Sofinco; BNP Paribas in 2006 with Cetelem and Cofinoga) to share data on their borrowers for purposes of bad debt prevention, based on five criteria, with which Experian was unable to fully comply :
All data on the financial status of individuals, whether or not they have outstanding debts, are retained in a central credit record, commonly called “positive record” by opposition to the “negative record” containing only credit-related payment incidents.