French Privacy Watchdog Orders Google to Expand ‘Right to Be Forgotten’

12 Jun 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

French Privacy Agency Orders Google to Remove Global Links.

France’s data privacy agency ordered Google to remove search results worldwide upon request, giving the company two weeks to apply the “right to be forgotten” globally. PARIS—France’s data-protection regulator has ordered Google GOOG -0.39 % to expand its takedowns under Europe’s new “right to be forgotten” to encompass all of its global domains, including Google.com, escalating a fight over the divisive rule that could push the search giant back into the European court. While the order isn’t a sanction, the authority can follow up with sanctions proceedings and a fine of up to €150,000 ($168,000) if Google doesn’t comply.

It identified search engines as data controllers and required they process requests from private individuals wanting outdated, inaccurate or irrelevant information delisted from a search result for their name. It gave European residents the ability to request that search engines delete results related to them that they consider out of date, irrelevant or inflammatory.

However the way Google implemented the court’s ruling has created a trivial workaround because it only delists links from European sub-domains (such as .fr and .co.uk), not from google.com. Some data-protection experts have suggested the company could use geolocation to remove links from google.com only for searches conducted within the EU. If Google does not comply it says it will initiate sanction proceedings. “If Google Inc does not comply with the formal notice within the fifteen days the President will be in position to nominate a Rapporteur to draft a report recommending to the CNIL Select Committee (the Committee in charge of imposing sanctions in case of violation of the French data protection law) to impose a sanction to the company,” the CNIL said today. That would mean results could be removed from google.com when accessed in Paris, but not when viewed from New York—using similar technology to how Google targets search advertising.

And despite specifying the delisting should be effective “on whole search engine, irrespective of the extension used”, the CNIL notes that where Google has granted appealed delisting requests it has only done so on European sub-domains. In a statement provided to TechCrunch regarding the CNIL’s order, a Google spokesperson said: “We’ve been working hard to strike the right balance in implementing the European Court’s ruling, co-operating closely with data protection authorities. The company has previously argued that applying delisting to .com is unnecessary because only a “very small percentage” of European traffic goes to .com. And given the inevitable variance involved in individual delisting requests then any general solutions — be it blanket requirements or blanket refusals — are always going to feel a little ill-fitting.

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