It looks like the Commission Nationale de l’informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), the French privacy authority, has decided to take a dangerous position that supports internet censorship. The CNIL, along with others in Europe, wants Google to remove links from the global search index under Europe’s “Right to Be Forgotten” law (RTBF).
The position, which is based on the idea that individual country domain removals can be circumvented by going over to Google.com, instead of of Google.co.uk. But because Google believes that they are looking out for everybody else in other countries across the world, they have resisted the act of removing RTBF on the grounds that citizens of other countries shouldn’t be subject to the laws of the French or any other European country.
Google has stated before that they are going to limit RTB to European users:
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 ruling focused on services directed to European users, and that’s the approach we are taking in complying with it.
But, it seems this is not enough for CNIL.
In order to police access to RTBF content, Google has tried to make it more inaccessible on a global scale for all European users, but not users outside of European jurisdiction where RTBF applies.
Even with these efforts of Google’s part, French authorities fined Google $112,000 today due to the search engine’s failure to remove RTBF links from their global search index. In the New York Times, French regulators were quoted saying:
“For people residing in France to effectively exercise their right to be delisted, it must be applied to the entire processing operation, i.e., to all of the search engine’s extensions” . . . CNIL said in a statement.
Google has said that they will be appealing.
In this case, I would have to side with Google due to the fact that the CNIL is trying to overextend their jurisdiction into other areas where they have no reach. CNIL’s unwillingness to bend seems to ignore potentially larger issues and unintended consequences. The problem is that the French seems to want control over content across the entire globe.