There is a top European court that will now decide whether Google must remove “right to be forgotten” (RTBF) links from its global search index. Commission Nationale de l’informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), the French data protection authority, argued previously that RTBF can be defeated when disputed content remains in Google’s global index.
CNIL demanded, back in 2015, that a global RTBF delisting was to be enforced. Accordingly, the regulator has effectively sought authority over Google’s search results in countries outside Europe. This is certainly outside their legal jurisdiction.
Google complied within Europe but declined to do it globally. Later, CNIL fined Google roughly 100,000€ for not following its directive to purge disputed content globally.
Google and correctly resisted CNIL on grounds that citizens of other countries shouldn’t follow French or European law. Google defended limiting RTBF removals to European users and has taken a number of steps to prevent people in Europe from accessing RTBF links:
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.
Google appealed the fine to France’s administrative court, which has now sent the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ).
What will happen if ECJ affirms the French regulator’s demands? We aren’t sure. It would seem that other countries that are considered “less principled,” like Pakistan, China and Russia, might see validation of CNIL’s position as a green light to seek global censorship of content that they deem objectionable.