Right to be forgotten battle between Google and CNIL continues – with a fine on the horizon

In 2014, the commission, known as the Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), decided that people had the right to ask internet search engines to remove embarrassing or sensitive results for queries that included their name.

While Google began implementing the ruling, it only removed links from European domains. As a result, people could still find the links through sites such as google.com.

Google maintained this policy even after the president of the CNIL issued a formal notice in June, ordering the company to apply the ruling to “all domain names”.

At the end of July, Google filed an informal appeal, arguing that it would impede the public’s right to information and would be a form of censorship. The internet giant claimed that applying the right beyond Europe could pave the way for authoritarian governments attempting to apply internet censorship rules beyond borders. 

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Following the decision to throw out the appeal, a Google spokesperson said that as a matter of principle “[the company] respectfully [disagreed] with the idea that one national data protection authority could assert global authority to control the content that people access around the world”.

In a Google blog post it was even suggested that the announcement was “a troubling development that risked serious chilling effects on the web”.

The company added that the order was “disproportionate and unnecessary”, saying that the “overwhelming majority” of French internet users accessed a European version of Google’s search engine.

Google could face possible sanctions proceedings if it does not implement the ruling.

According to the Financial Times: “France would be the first country to open a sanctions process over the right to be forgotten, but CNIL’s powers are limited as it can only impose fines of up to €150,000.”

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