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Google to French data cops: Dot-com RTBF? Baiser ma DERRIERE
Maybe shouldn't have relied on Google Translate to check that one
Google has refused to comply with French data cops' demands to apply the European "right to be forgotten" across the globe.
Chocolate Factory privacy counsel Peter Fleischer said in a blog post on Thursday that Google begged to differ with the French data authority CNIL’s interpretation of the so-called right to be forgotten (RTBF) ruling by the European courts.
In June, CNIL ordered Google to de-link outdated and irrelevant information from its Google.com domain, as well as European domains, within two weeks or face a fine.
The order followed the May 2014 ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that established the right for people to demand delisting of “outdated and irrelevant” information appearing in searches for a person’s name.
In that case, the ECJ said that although the information listed by Google about Costeja González, a 58-year-old Spaniard, was lawful and accurate, links to a 10-year-old Spanish newspaper notice about a mortgage foreclosure against him was no longer the most relevant search result.
“We moved rapidly to comply with the ruling from the court. Within weeks we made it possible for people to submit removal requests, and soon after that began delisting search results,” Fleischer wrote.
“It's now just over a year later and we’ve evaluated and processed more than a quarter of a million requests to delist links to more than one million individual web pages. Whenever a request meets the criteria set by the court, we delist it from search results for that individual’s name from all European versions of Google Search.”
But CNIL said that such an argument was not sufficient:
Pursuant to the judgment of the ECJ, for delisting to be effective, it must involve all the extensions and the services offered via the search engine Google search.
That means Google.com as well as .fr, .de, .co.uk etc.
Fleischer argued that complying with CNIL’s wishes would risk “serious chilling effects on the web”.
Google's mouthpiece added:
While the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally. Moreover, there are innumerable examples around the world where content that is declared illegal under the laws of one country, would be deemed legal in others.
If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place.
Fleischer went on to compare the request to draconian laws in Thailand, Turkey and Russia.
Google has said that roughly 97 per cent of French users accessed its search engine via Google.fr, rather than Google.com. It therefore asked the CNIL to withdraw its formal notice.
The French watchdog will bark or bite within two months. However, the maximum fine of €150,000 would clearly be peanuts to the ad goliath.
If the situation should escalate, French courts – which wield much more power – may be sympathetic to CNIL.
Last October, the High Court in Paris ordered Google to remove links to defamatory information (as distinct from the outdated or irrelevant info under RTBF) from its .com domain.
Prior to that, most rulings limited themselves to the local top level domain, but the court said this would be insufficient because even in France users can search using the Google.com domain.
Watch this space. ®