It was reported yesterday that Google was appealing the French Data protection regulator’s (CNIL’s) decision that Google must remove/censor “right to be forgotten” (RTBF) URLs on a global level. Before, Google trying finding a compromise an enforce RTBF in Europe, but preserve the content in other markets with different rules and privacy standards.
CNIL didn’t accept that solution and asserted that in order to be the most effective, the URLs would have to be executed across all Google domains worldwide. With the ball in their court, Google didn’t fully comply,, and ultimately, French authorities fined the company $112,000 for not removing RTBF links from its full index.
We comply with the laws of the countries in which we operate. But if French law applies globally, how long will it be until other countries — perhaps less open and democratic — start demanding that their laws regulating information likewise have global reach? This order could lead to a global race to the bottom, harming access to information that is perfectly lawful to view in one’s own country. For example, this could prevent French citizens from seeing content that is perfectly legal in France. This is not just a hypothetical concern. We have received demands from governments to remove content globally on various grounds — and we have resisted, even if that has sometimes led to the blocking of our services.
We don’t know what would happen if the Conseil d’État upheld CNIL’s decision.
Over the course of two years, according to third-party data, Google declined about 70-75 percent of RTBF requests.