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French privacy watchdog orders Google to expand 'right to be forgotten' globally

Google started delisting search results through the "right to be forgotten" ruling enacted in the EU last year, but the search giant limited the removal of results to its domains in Europe. French privacy watchdog CNIL (National Commission on Informatics and Liberty) is now ordering Google to remove the results from all instances of the search engine, irrespective of the domain.

Citing the Court of Justice of the European Union's ruling, CNIL said:

Following the assessment of the complaints, the CNIL has requested Google to carry out the delisting of several results. It was expressly requested that the delisting should be effective on whole search engine, irrespective of the extension used (.fr; .uk; .com …).Although the company has granted some of the requests, delisting was only carried out on European extensions of the search engine and not when searches are made from "google.com" or other non-European extensions.In accordance with the CJEU judgement, the CNIL considers that in order to be effective, delisting must be carried out on all extensions of the search engine and that the service provided by Google search constitutes a single processing.

CNIL is giving Google fifteen days to comply, failing which it will impose a sanction:

No further action will be taken if the company complies in all aspects and in the given period of time with the formal notice. If this is the case, the proceeding will be closed and this decision will also be made public.If Google Inc does not comply with the formal notice within the fifteen days the President will be in position to nominate a Rapporteur to draft a report recommending to the CNIL Select Committee (the Committee in charge of imposing sanctions in case of violation of the French data protection law) to impose a sanction to the company.

For its part, Google said that it has complied with the wording of the law:

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.

Even if the CNIL were to sanction Google, the French regulatory body has the authority to impose a maximum fine of 150,000 Euro, which is unlikely to make a dent to Google's coffers.

Source: CNIL; Via: Reuters

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Harish Jonnalagadda
Harish Jonnalagadda

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

87 Comments
  • This is ridiculous. It's mind blowing to even comprehend that such a law was ever enacted in the first place.
  • I'm imagining a morning when the French wake up to find that every link to every Google product/service lands on a page that simply says: aucun...
  • Yeah because everyone that cares about their privacy, should either never use anything Google does and live under a rock, or they should use it and give up their privacy and just keep their mouths shut. I find it ridiculous how people can hate on regulations like these that are brought forward to protect people. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Has nothing to to with using Google services. Google has those protections, and had them well prior to legal requirements.This law deals with not being able to find legitimate info, i.e. new articles, because somebody is embarrassed of their actions in the past. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_be_forgotten
  • I'm aware of the law. Still, why shouldn't I have the right to remove something about me that appears on Google search results? Posted via the Android Central App
  • You've seen the movie Men In Black? Remember that pen-sized light flashing thingy that made people forget they just saw aliens or whatever? Well, IT DOESN'T EXIST!!! IT'S NOT REAL!!! You can't just say "oh, that was embarrassing! Hey everybody, look over here..." FLASH! Search engines (not just Google) are the collective memory of the on-line world. And honestly, I don't understand why an evolution of the robots.txt standard wasn't proposed. Some thing like "Age: < 3 years" so it would be up to the source (not the search engine) to determine what is remembered and what's forgotten; and it would be universal rather than engine by engine (of course the search engine still needs to respect the robots.txt but I think any engine that doesn't is also the kind of search engine the E.U. would have trouble exerting jurisdiction over so it's a moot point).
  • I think it's a slippery slope. Say, you are a CEO of a company and you convicted of embezzlement can you send a request and have it deleted? I'm not sure, if someone out there knows exactly how the law works I would like to know. Who decides what should and can be deleted? Is it a governing body or is it the requester. Basically I think we are deleting history. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Europe likes to control history.
  • I have a better question. what if YOU were dating someone and you find out that person had some serious issues and was a pathological liar. You end your involvement with them and want to get out of that relationship and that person responds by falsely accusing you of rape or even "touching" their kid or something like that? Of course news like that will make headlines, right? Well, if it came out she lied about everything and any and all charges dropped... Are you going to honestly tell me that you are OK with having the original links to this story freely available? Can you imagine someone searching for your name and being linked to an old article that was never updated about your original arrest?
  • Plenty of examples of exactly that type of request under this European law. In another case, Persson learned of a Dutchman, who at age 60 in the 1990s agreed to appear in an adult film on a single occasion. The story line was simple enough: old guy gets lucky with a younger woman. Expecting that his peers would not likely find the video, the novice actor used his real name. The plot took a new twist after the Internet came along. Nowadays he detects suspicion, contempt, even rudeness when he meets people a second time, as he suspects they look up his name. On one hand, a man in his 60s should be seasoned enough to consider the implications of appearing in a sex film. But he could not have anticipated the all-seeing eye of the Internet bringing that video to the top of search results 20 years later. Or that a site called IMDB would also record the performance as his one and only wooden attempt at acting.
  • Take a look at this article, it touches on what you are thinking (I believe it does anyways)
    http://freespeechdebate.com/en/case/does-a-murderer-have-the-right-to-be...
  • If you are convicted then it's a matter of public record so who cares. If it's libel then yes you should be able to have it removed.
  • Bet GW Bush wishes he could Delete his profiles, especially with Iraq
  • Imagine if you have a family of your own (maybe you do, I don't know), and you just moved to a new town and you're looking for a family physician. Well, imagine that the person you picked out happened to have several malpractice lawsuits for negligence resulting in injury or death and you couldn't know about that because when you Googled the physician's name the results were cleansed of any possible warning to prospective patients. Maybe it's a few weeks until the big election and you want to research political candidates, how can you possibly make an informed decision knowing that anything potentially damaging to a person's image has been removed from Google? How about child care, how can you trust you kid to someone knowing that a potential predator has cleaned their image online? Maybe a disgruntled ex posted nude images of you online, then I can see this policy having a legitimate purpose, but to restrict information from the general public that can result in them being put in harm's way because you give the scum of the earth the power to wipe the slate clean is not a good practice.
  • Removing google search results doesn't remove the information from the internet.
    Professional associations publish results from malpractice, negligence cases etc are published on the respective websites.
    I'm not sure if the AMA keeps a published list, you would have to do some digging. I do know professional engineers associations do publish results from formal disciplinary hearings for the public to search on their websites. Google cannot take that away. My point is just because its not on google search results doesn't mean the information doesn't exist and can't be found.
  • I understand that the information is still out there. But the Internet is a rapidly developing beast, and there's still millions upon millions, upon millions of people out there that can barely grasp the concept of a search engine. If an elderly person happens to do a search for something like the legitimacy of a company who currently has an employee at their doorstep trying to sell them some bogus swampland, do you think they're going to have the know-how to investigate beyond Google's results to find the information they need to protect themselves?
  • But then why do you restrict Google from showing the information, but not the other indexes? How is that fair? Why do I need to know where the information is tucked away in order to access it? AMA, the hosptial, CMS, NIH all collect the info, Google just gets me there faster, and I don't think they (any search engine) should be forced to not show the links.
  • You should not have that right because it is not your property. If you are the author or own the site results appear on, and it has not been cached or linked to by others, then by all means, delete it yourself. Google has no authority to police search results and putting them in this position is irresponsible. You can petition the publishers of content, why on earth would you put this on Google? Absolutely stupid.
  • No, you should not have that right. If it's slander or libel, then you can take legal action, but if it's an article about something horrible you did, and it's factual, then no, you should never have that right. That is the opposite of free speech.
  • Right, and I'm sure they already have laws for that. Posted via the Android Central App
  • First, taking legal action is NOT free... Also, this has nothing to do with free speech. The original articles are not being asked to be deleted or censored.
  • I think your point on free speech is flat out wrong. I agree the speech of the the source is not being impacted, but Google's speech is being censored -- a clear free speech issue. The US and other countries all limit free speech already, so the real argument is should this be another area we limit speech. I believe no.
  • You seem to looking at it from a single perspective. This has to really do with giving tools to someone to protect themselves. The example of someone being falsely accused is a good one. You need to create some sort of mechanism that allows them to limit or reduce the impact of something like that in their life. Someone blindly suggested it would be better to (spend all their money) just file lawsuits against each website instead of just having those links delisted on Google with the push of button. What... huh? As for people who try to abuse the system. DUH!!! Of course it's going to happen. That's done everyday all over the world. But the point is... You NEED a way that someone who isn't rich... no resources.. just an average person ... something that person could use to help protect themselves. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.
  • I see both sides of the issue, we just disagree on where the greater harm lies. I can see where tools are wanted, perhaps needed, but I don't like aiming them at search. There are other avenues -- for example go to the source and ask them to remove it. Why not aim the law there? If allegations are proven false, a news organization must pull the article down or change the content to reflect the most accurate story. That said, in the case where somebody is proven wrongly accused, that may be potential exception that would gain support. The law however was created to protect people that DID do something, and now want Google to help cover it up for them because they are "not like that anymore". I say tough to that.
  • What if the website is located on a server in another country? When I log onto Facebook my browser says the server is located in Ireland. You can't aim laws for news sites located in other countries.. or even other states at times. As far as your comment about "gaining support" if wrongly accused. You made one fatal error... you failed to take into account people's ignorance. For some people, once they hear "key words", it makes no difference about anything else they hear... Some guy.. who is a "model citizen" goes out to a bar... has a couple of beers... nothing hard.. not drunk or anything... decides it's time to come home.. but along the way he has to urinate.. goes into an alley to pee real quick. Cops come.. and he gets arrested and cited for that. Unfortunately for him, most cities have laws making that a "sexual" crime and now this guy has to register as a sex offender. Now say this man enters some plea to get his sentence reduced to something less severe.... Without the tools of unlinking him.. the original articles will link him to that list. One of his co-workers sees his name associated with sex offenders and "rats" him out.. You honestly think his job is going to take the time to investigate what really happened? Nope.. they don't care. This was probably a bad example... I'm just saying... we should NOT limit the ways people can help protect themselves...
  • You are wrong
  • You should explain your position in detail.
  • This has nothing to do with "protecting the average citizen" this is about control and government spy networks not having any competition. Being able to protect themselves in an event if they themselves get called out for wrong doing, especially if it were scandalous out something from the past. Imagine if H*tler had this right. So the average person can't find out about them. The ability to remove their own personal names from public scrutiny. That way it's the government's fault but never any individuals.
  • Don't be stupid, or do something embarrassing, and get published doing it. Hey, common sense. Lose the mentality that you are so entitled as to be able to do whatever idiotic thing you want and then have nobody know about it. What next? Will Google need to remove links to any site that deals with historical events, because some person or country might be embarrassed? Ridiculous. Newspaper archives still exist, the Internet is merely a virtual version of the same thing. The thing people are getting upset about is that it is easier to access and search than paper files or microfiche (if you don't know what microfiche is, look it up).
  • Because it is the truth and if you were a child molester, not saying you are, I want to know it. Own your past, don't censor it Sent via carrier duck. They were out of pigeons
  • Of course, nobody is forcing you to use Google's services, and there are a number of competitors out there,.. You are free to use whatever service you want, in the form it is offered by the company providing it, but nobody has a right to force a company to make a different product because you don't like it. If you don't like it, don't use it! Easy peasy, and doesn't cost years and billions of taxpayer euros.
  • You do realize that even if you use a different business service... that business may have a contract to use Google's services in the background.. so in essence you would probably be using Google's services inadvertently.
  • +100 via AC App on VZW Moto X DE/N7
  • Dear CNIL, Use Incognito mode
  • Better idea is to forget about France.
  • This is how you handle the French Government. "Okay we will comply." Next day, "Google, what happened to your search engine?"
    Google replies," What search engine? France doesn't have access to Google Search. We have to protect the privacy of the French like their government told/asked us to." Later that day, "Google we are ordering you to bring Google Search back to France." Still using the Sprint GSIII on FreedomPop Unlimited for $19.99
  • Lol! Didn't something like that already happen to the publishing industry in France? Posted via Android Central App
  • The right to be forgotten? Don't use Google services. Problem solved.
  • Bingo Posted via the Android Central App
  • This has nothing to do with Google services. The law actually makes it illegal in certain situations, initiated by a request, to serve up search results of 'old' information, videos and pictures. Google has to weigh the impact to the person requesting and the person that owns the initial information, but there are cases where news articles can be suppressed in search. Accused of government fraud years ago? Suppress any mention of it in search. It is a ridiculous regulation. Educate yourself on the topic before you form and opinion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_be_forgotten
  • Not at all. the fact that that a situation happened is still there somewhere . And nobody 'owns' that fact.
  • What not at all? I don't get your point. The law is designed to suppress information. It is like leaving a book in the library but pulling all mention of it from the card catalog (for those of you old enough to have ever had a use one). Also, news organizations may not own the 'fact', but they do own the information they publish. How is it ok for a government entity to require Google, or any search engine, to suppress it in a search? Quite simply, this is censorship, and I find the law reprehensible.
  • Google should just block all of France's IP addresses from its services. "Everyone deserves the right to be forgotten, so we've forgotten France."
  • Maybe we should call them Forgotten Fries? Look out Wackypedia, here I come . . .
  • Why forgotten fries? If your implying the French invented fries your wrong, Belgium invented frietjes ( fries) Posted via the Android Central App
  • Go to McD's and ask for a side of Belgian fries with your Big Mac. Let us know how that works out for you.
  • In België McDonald's have frietjes not French fries so it will work out nicely... Well Perhaps not nicely as McDonald's is Shit :-(
    Just cos Americans use the term French fries does not make it correct Posted via the Android Central App
  • So where do you suppose the word French comes from with regard to the cut of the potato?
  • How about leaving france? See how they like using yahoo.
  • I'm confused, what's the issue here? I don't see why Google would flat out forget a search, saving that data saves you time when you're making searches in the future and if it really bothers you use a private browser or incognito. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You are misunderstandings the law - the "right to be forgotten" rules force Google to remove links from everyone's searches. Posted via Android Central App
  • Hey, how about Google just forget about France?
    De-list them
  • I feel the need to point out that, in the statement, it says that the agency 'has requested" , not "ORDERS" Google to expand RtbF. They've asked. They've requested. Nevermind the fact that they can't tell Google what to do, they didn't ORDER them to do anything. Saying they have is quite misleading.
  • They will impose sanctions if Google doesn't do as asked. That's not just a simple request.
  • Dear France, piss off.
  • Google should have told France to piss off in the first place. This law was written to protect criminal politicians and its a shame. And those that keep saying things like, "Don't use Google services. Problem solved.", please do ten seconds of research, because that's not at all what this is about. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm pretty sure you can't order them to put this in place globally, France. Nice try, though.
  • Unfortunately the BC provincial court in Canada is trying to do the exact same thing. Search for "Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack" and you'll see (quick, before it's forgotten). It's a little more legit in this case, because they are trying to make Google stop showing results for a web site that is stealing IP and reselling it. But the question of jurisdiction remains. I don't think a provincial court should have the ability to impose a global ban, but it does raise the question whether there should be an authority that has that jurisdiction. And if they could make universal rulings, instead of company by company (or search engine by search engine).
  • I view this differently. They want Google to pull search results to a site that is accused of illegal activity. If the company is shown to be in violation of a law, then I can see the request as being valid. To me, proving wrong doing is a must prior to action. I would also think the site should be pulled down if possible. The easiest analog of this is child pornography. I am sure we can get consensus that Google should not show those links.
  • Sure it's illegal in BC, Canada, and probably many other countries (with similar patent laws). But not necessarily where the "illegal" business is operating. Can we, should we, use as a proxy Google to impose our laws in other countries?
  • Fair question that gets into murkier waters. I would have to dig into the specifics of the case to develop an informed decision. As a rule, Google should not be asked to impose local law as an international law.
  • They can have Google do that for people in their own country, but they can't legally demand that they remove it for, say, the US instances of Google. Your CP example is rather flawed since it's outlawed in pretty much every country where Google is available anyway, so it's not like one country is trying to dictate their laws to other countries through Google.
  • Google, just pull out of France. They are a small country that will not be missed.
  • Lol. Yes a small country. The most visited country in this planet. With nearly 66 million people and with the Fifth largest economy in the world. Absolutely tiny. Might as well remove Italy or Germany hell even the UK. They are all small countries... Posted via the Android Central App for Sailfish OS on my iPad 7
  • This is an absolutely stupid regulation. Google doesn't have the right to do this, whether requested to or not. They are showing results of what is on the web, they don't own the web. If your stuff is somewhere you don't want it, talk to the people who published it.
  • We surrender. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm sure a lot of Nazis would love to have their past forgotten. The so-called "right to be forgotten" is the worst concept to come out of Europe in a long time. It needs to be resisted at every opportunity.
  • True. Corporations and politicians can easily remove their own wrong doing. Not that they don't already but it'll be protected under the law to erase it in Google searches. But everything that every is placed online will never be removed and isn't deleted. Posted via the Android Central App for Sailfish OS on my iPad 7
  • The search engine is the wrong place to do it.
  • It's crazy to see how ignorant people can be! I am French and this makes since. Don't hate on it if you don't even understand what it does!
    God!
  • It is after all freedom of choice to allow to be forgotten. O well. Posted via the Android Central App for Sailfish OS on my iPad 7
  • Wrong. It's not freedom of choice to demand that info you don't like be taken from everyone else. It's censorship. You should be embarrassed, but of course you rush to defend it. It's sad. It would be scary if France had the ability to enforce it, but it's only bluster Posted via Android Central App
  • It's a dumb and dangerous law. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
  • Yeah, the bloke on the street made this up. Get real.
  • He's defending it. Politicians require public support. He's providing it.
  • Who the h do they think they are?
  • Pull out of all things France, let all of their news organizations lose millions of visitors, then revisit negotiations. Viva la goog
  • The "Right to be Forgotten" is censorship, pure and simple. You may not like something posted about yourself on a web site, but that doesn't give you the right to censor search results containing that web site under the guise of a made-up, Orwellian "Right to be Forgotten". In a free society, no one has a right to be forgotten any more than you have a right to censor what others say about you. The French don't seem to fully grasp the concept of freedom of expression.
  • Exactly.
  • France wants Google to wave the white flag and capitulate....something the French are very familiar with.
  • How can a government force something "globally"? --- This message brought to you via the sarcasm keyboard available for download at the Google Play Store.
    LG-G2 on Lollipop.
  • This is not a law or a sanction France can legally make. France has no jurisdiction over the globe any more than the US or any other country. It's really that simple. If France attempts to sanction Google, they risk their own legal retribution.
  • LOL. France doesn't have that kind of authority....except maybe on cheese, wine, and fine art.....and surrendering Posted via the Android Central App
  • Had I a few million dollars to waste, I'd pay Google to leave France entirely. This request by them is offensive and they need to be stopped.
  • if ( France == Serious) {
    Laugh your behind off;
    }
    else {
    Laugh your behind off anyways;
    }
  • Why are people so weird about having an internet presence? It drives me crazy when I search for somebody and it comes up with nothing. If you search for me the first 5 pages are actually me. It doesn't bother me in the least it makes me easier to contact if somebody needs to get in touch with me.
  • Dear france, 1984 was supposed to be a warning. Not a how-to manual. "We've always been at war with eastasia" -ministry of truth