Google rejects French request to expand right to be forgotten

Google won’t comply with an order from France’s privacy watchdog group to apply the right to be forgotten to all its search results around the world.

In June, CNIL, France’s data protection authority, ordered Google to remove search results meeting “right to be forgotten” criteria from any regional version of Google’s search engine. However, granting CNIL’s request could have a “serious chilling effect on the web,” Google said Thursday in a blog post.

The request stems from May 2014 decision issued by the European Court of Justice that allows Europeans to ask search engines in the region to scrub results that contain information about them that’s found to be inadequate, irrelevant or not in the public interest. This has been dubbed the right to be forgotten.

Since the ruling, Google said it has removed more than 1 million links and received nearly 300,000 requests, according to its transparency report. Those links were removed from European versions of Google, such as google.fr in France and google.de in Germany.

The links, however, would still appear if the search was conducted in other versions of Google, such as google.com.

CNIL is looking to broaden the ruling’s scope and claims Google hasn’t gone far enough to honor removal requests. Hundreds of Europeans have filed complaints with CNIL over Google’s refusal to remove links from all variants of its search engine, according to the order. CNIL can impose sanctions on Google for disobeying its request, but information on the penalty wasn’t provided.

Following CNIL’s order would hinder Internet freedom and allow one country to control what content people in other nations can access, Google said, noting that the right to be forgotten isn’t a global law. Google also said content that one country finds offensive could be legal in other nations, such as websites that speak out against the government.

CNIL couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

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