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March 28, 2016

French Privacy Authorities Hit Google With $112,000 Right to Be Forgotten Fine

France’s data protection watchdog has slapped Google with a $112,000 fine for not taking its ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ delistings global.

The Commission Nationale de L’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) wants no compromises on the European Union’s ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ law and has rejected Google’s proposed compromise of filtering search results based on the geographic origin of the person performing the search. This, Google said, would be done in addition to delisting on all of its search engine’s European extensions.

The CNIL, however, does not believe Google’s proposal goes far enough.

“The right to be delisted is derived from the right to privacy, which is a universally recognized fundamental right laid down in international human rights law,” the CNIL said in a press release. “Only delisting on all of the search engine’s extensions, regardless of the extension used or the geographic origin of the person performing the search, can effectively uphold this right. The solution that consists in varying the respect for people’s rights on the basis of the geographic origin of those viewing the search results does not give people effective, full protection of their right to be delisted.”

Europe’s top court ruled in May 2014 that people have the “right to be forgotten” online forcing Google to comply with requests from “ordinary people” to remove outdated links and irrelevant information from its search engine.

Google, in June 2015, posted an online form that Europeans can fill out to request deletion of links. But that was not the end of the issue. EU privacy watchdogs drafted new rules for Google to follow in November 2014 demanding the search engine firm, when it receives a right to be forgotten request, remove the links from all Google search engines, not just its European search.

France in particular has been the proverbial thorn in Google’s side. The CNIL last summer ordered the company to extend the ‘right to be forgotten’ law to all of its search results rather than just those in Europe after receiving hundreds of complaints from people who had submitted right to be forgotten requests that were not completely delisted by Google — meaning, the offending info could still be found on Google’s U.S. Web search.

Google has been fighting the rules, saying European authorities do not have the right to govern its other search engines.

The CNIL just does not see it that way, however.

“Contrary to Google’s statements, applying delisting to all of the extensions does not curtail freedom of expression insofar as it does not entail any deletion of content from the Internet,” the CNIL said. “At a physical person’s request, it simply removes any links to website pages from the list of search results generated by running a search on the person’s first name and surname. These pages can still be accessed when the search is performed using other terms.”

Google has been tight-lipped about the fine, releasing only a brief statement to the Wall Street Journal: “We disagree with the (regulator’s) assertion that it has the authority to control the content that people can access outside France.”


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.