Google is in the process of appealing against a US$112,140 fine from France’s Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL), following an alleged breach of an EU Court of Justice ruling.
The dispute concerns what is known as the “right to be forgotten” ruling, passed by the European Court of Justice in May 2014. Essentially, the ruling gives individuals the right to have search results about them removed from sites like Google where they are deemed “irrelevant” or “appear to be inadequate.”
This is not the first time that Google has raised objections to the ruling, which has seen them inundated with requests for removal. Despite reviewing nearly 1.5 million such requests, only 40% actually resulted in the removal of search results.
Google maintains that the “right to be forgotten” ruling is open to abuse from what it calls “less open and democratic” countries.
Whilst the law is effectively only enforceable for content within Europe, companies who offer services to European citizens are required to abide by it.
It’s on this point that Google has crossed swords with the CNIL — Google say that they do remove results in response to “valid” requests, but not on global, non-European versions of its site.
Given the relative ease with which EU citizens can access international versions of websites — such as google.com — the CNIL wants Google to apply the “right to be forgotten” across the board.
Google however, have argued that French authorities have no right to impose legal restraints out with the jurisdiction of their own borders:
“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,” Google said.
“This is not just a hypothetical concern. We have received demands from governments to remove content globally on various grounds… We have resisted, even if that has sometimes led to the blocking of our services.”
The Conseil d’État is expected to take at least a year to review the appeal.