Google’s plea challenging a May order from the data protection regulator of France to expand Europe’s “right to be forgotten” ruling to each of its websites, including Google.com, has been rejected, says a report from The Wall Street Journal. Google has complied with all the removal requests it has received to date, but only for the version of its search engine accessible within the country where the requests have been made, such as google.fr for France.
Problems rising for Google
Google is in a difficult situation as it not only faces fines but also the possibility of the case getting kicked to the European Union level, which is much broader. The privacy concept of letting European citizens ask Google to remove unfavorable search results is a controversial one, and if it moves to a higher level, lawmakers will then be able to establish a broader scope for this concept.
In June, France’s Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, known as CNIL, ruled that Google should expand its take-down practices to all domain names, including the countries with stronger protection around the freedom of speech. CNIL granted Google 15 days to begin removing search results from all of its domain names. If it fails to do so, it will face sanctions, including an initial penalty of up to €150,000, which is not much for one of the world’s most powerful corporations. Google has all the right to appeal any sanction in the French court and send it to a higher European level.
An unending tussle?
The European Union’s Court of Justice established the “right to be forgotten” for the first time in 2014, and since then, there has been a constant tussle between Google and European privacy regulators leading to the rise of issues on the censorship of the Internet. It also gave birth to issues on whether European concepts of privacy supersede laws around freedom of expression of singular countries.
Of all the right to be forgotten requests Google received in 2014, almost half came from France, Germany and the U.K. The most were received from France, which made 17,500 requests. In a July 2015 transparency report, Google accidentally revealed that it had received around 220,000 requests until that time, and 5% of them came from criminals, politicians and public figures who were making an attempt to scrub clean their pasts.