Google fined in France for restricting the “Right to be forgotten”
The American web giant has been sentenced to 100 000 € fine by the French privacy regulator for not complying with European privacy ruling.
Let us begin with some facts
The Court of Justice of the European Union decided that Google and other search engines (such as Microsoft’s Bing search platform, for example) are responsible for the personal data of their users which appears on web pages published by third parties, upholding a right to be forgotten, which for now represents a right to dereference. In 2014, the ECJ recognized the right to be forgotten which gives the individuals the possibility to request personal information to be removed from the Internet, under some conditions. With this ruling, however, numerous questions remained unanswered.
The problem with Google is that the search engine applies this right for its European extensions—google.fr and google.de, but not for google.com. This enters in conflict with the French authority willing for the right to be applicable at world level.
The US Internet giant shall, according to the authority, delete certain data of French users not only from its European extensions, but also for these outside the EU. Google complied, but it only scrubbed results for its European websites such as Google.de in Germany and Google.fr in France on the grounds that to do otherwise would be an issue for the free flow of information.
Google also has announced that a Geoblocking is already active for users in EU countries. That means that a link removed on the basis of the right to be forgotten will not be available in the viewing search results of all the extensions (.fr, .de, .com), but only if a user tries to access it from the territory of the EU. The link will still be accessible to searchers in US or in Canada.
CNIL stated that « Only delisting on all of the search engine’s extensions, regardless of the extension used or the geographic origin of the person performing the search, can effectively uphold this right ». According to the authority, users could bypass the geoblocking by using proxies or other tools for anonymization, which makes the approach inefficient.
Google will try to contest the penalty before the French Supreme administrative court, but it shouldn’t count on that….
Etudiante en Master 2 Droit de l’économie numérique et titulaire d’un Master Droit international et droit de l’Union européenne, je suis inspirée par l’évolution des NTIC et leurs problématiques juridiques. J’ai un vif intérêt pour le droit de la propriété intellectuelle appliqué aux nouvelles technologies.