The appeal that Google launched to challenge a ruling that said that they must apply the ‘right to be forgotten’ to global domains has now been rejected. Igniyte asks what this means for the future of the right to be forgotten in Europe.
Following the landmark right to be forgotten ruling made by the European Court of Justice in May 2014, Google found a loophole which allowed them to circumvent it. They only removed information from searches carried out on its European sites, but left sites with ‘.com’ domains intact.
The French regulator Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) received hundreds of complaints on this issue. They ruled against Google in May 2015, giving the search engine no choice but to honour right to be forgotten requests involving global domains.
Google lodged an appeal with Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, the president of CNIL, in July 2015. The Guardian reported that Falque-Pierrotin has rejected the appeal, saying that once a delisting has been accepted under the right to be forgotten, it must be applied to every extension of the search engine.
In a statement, CNIL said: “Contrary to what Google has stated, this decision does not show any willingness on the part of the CNIL to apply French law extraterritorially. It simply requests full observance of European legislation by non-European players offering their services in Europe.”
Consequences for Google
The search engine has no legal possibility of lodging a further appeal under French law. If Google doesn’t comply with CNIL’s decision, they could be fined up to 300,000 euros. This could rise to 2%-5% of global operating costs under incoming EU regulation. At this point they’d be able to appeal it and any fine imposed by CNIL with the Supreme Court for administrative justice, the Conseil d’Etat.
A Google spokesperson commented: “We’ve worked hard to implement the ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling thoughtfully and comprehensively in Europe, and we’ll continue to do so. But as a matter of principle, we respectfully disagree with the idea that one national data protection authority can assert global authority to control the content that people can access around the world.”
The right to be forgotten could now be rolled out across every European country, allowing people across the continent to use it as a tool to manage their reputations online. Whether this proves the case, only time will tell, as so far the right to be forgotten has only had limited benefits in the field of online reputation management.
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