Google clashes with French data regulator

21 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

France Rejects Google’s Efforts to Limit Application of Privacy Ruling.

France’s data protection watchdog rejected Monday an appeal by Google against a decision ordering the Internet giant to comply with users’ requests to have information about them removed from all search results.French data privacy regulators took a step towards sanctioning Google by rejecting the company’s request to drop a case against it for refusing to clean up information from its search engine results.On Monday, the country’s data protection authority rejected Google’s efforts to limit how a landmark European privacy ruling may be applied worldwide.

Since a European Court of Justice ruling in May 2014 recognising the “right to be forgotten” on the net, Google users can ask the search engine to remove results about them that are no longer relevant. Under Europe’s so-called right to be forgotten, individuals can ask search engines such as Google and Microsoft’s Bing to remove information that appears under a search of their name if it is incorrect, out of date, irrelevant or inflammatory. Google had no immediate response but has argued that agreeing to the request would leave it — and the free flow of information — vulnerable to similar orders from any government, democratic or totalitarian. That privacy decision was handed down last year by Europe’s top court, and allowed anyone with connections to Europe to request that global search engines remove links to items about themselves from queries.

However Google refused to comply and in July appealed the decision, arguing that CNIL was not competent “to control” information accessed across the globe. But it only de-lists the links on European versions of its sites, such as or not globally, meaning the information remains available. The standoff took another turn on Monday after the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, or C.N.I.L., the French privacy watchdog, said that it had rejected Google’s appeal for the ruling to be limited to Europe.

The French authority, the CNIL, in June ordered Google to de-list on request search results appearing under a person’s name from all its websites, including “The President of the CNIL rejects Google’s informal appeal against the formal notice requesting it to apply delisting on all of the search engine’s domain names,” the watchdog said. But an umbrella group of European data protection watchdogs took a similar position in December on the issue of cleaning up search results globally, saying that it was the only way to ensure the “effective and complete protection of data subjects’ rights and that EU law cannot be circumvented”. The watchdog also said that once Google had agreed to remove the links, the company was required to apply the decision across all of its domains, not just those in Europe.

The French regulator has emphasized that it does not want to control how people around the world surf the web, yet Google and free-speech campaigners have balked at Europe’s attempts to spread the right-to-be-forgotten ruling to other jurisdictions. In a blog post published in July, Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel, said that no country should control the type of online content available in other nations. He added that such practices could lead to multiple countries’ trying to outdo one another with strict rules, which could eventually reduce all types of materials that are available online.

France’s efforts to regulate online privacy come as people in the country remain the most active in Europe when it comes to seeking the removal of online links about themselves. So far, more than 66,000 such requests based on almost 220,000 online links have been submitted by people living in France, the largest figure of any European country, according to Google’s latest transparency report.

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