Polygraphe, a tool for identifying fake online reviews

A new tool, Polygraphe, has been in use since June 4 by the DGCCRF, the French consumer protection agency, to collect information identifying the authors of disputed online reviews. Here's a closer look at the software used to combat fake reviews.

Software implementation authorized for 3 years

Consumer reviews are frequently used to assess the quality of a product or service. It is not uncommon to refer to them to confirm a choice. A study by IFOP, relayed by the French Ministry of Transformation and the Civil Service, reports that 85% of consumers are influenced by reviews of products or services left online. However, not all reviews are reliable.

To better combat fraudulent comments, ratings or evaluations accessible to users, the DGCCRF is providing investigators with a tool called Polygraphe. On December 15, 2022, the Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL) examined Bercy's decree and confirmed the implementation of the system, the cost of which was estimated in 2019 at 300,000 euros over 2 years. A decree dated June 1 therefore authorizes the use of the software for a period of 3 years to process and analyze all online reviews.


Exploiting raw data

Polygraphe will be used to collect various types of information related to the publication of online notices:

  • Data concerning the author of the review: surname, first name, identifier assigned by the platform operator, URL of the personal page;
  • Data concerning the professional targeted by the notice: name on the platform, identifier assigned by the platform operator, website URL, telephone number, e-mail address, geographical data;
  • Data concerning the notice: text of the notice and text of any response.

The tool will also be able to retrieve connection data and event logs (account additions/deletions, content modification by administrators, etc.).

The algorithm will then be able to target suspicious comments " using various indicators of suspicion defined with experienced investigators on the subject ", says the Ministry. The final step is to visualize the results "in the form of an interface for investigators ".



With regard to the use of data, the DGCCRF would like to be able to keep it for a maximum of 6 months after it has been collected. In this situation, it should be noted that the right to object to such processing is not applicable.

The collection of personal and sometimes sensitive information could nevertheless put the Constitutional Council on alert. In 2020, the French Constitutional Council rejected an article in the Finance Act authorizing the tax authorities to recover data published by users on online platforms to combat tax evasion.