French data regulator – the CNIL – has ordered Google to apply the ‘right to be forgotten’ to all of its search engines. This has left Igniyte wondering how the right to be forgotten will be applied in other European countries going forward.

Right to be forgotten

The right to be forgotten was established in May 2014 by a ruling handed down by the European Court of Justice. The Court ruled against Google Spain in the case of Google Spain vs. AEPD and Mario Costeja González, saying that the search engine must remove “outdated” and “irrelevant” information about a user if the user requests that they do so.

This established what has commonly become known as the ‘right to be forgotten,’ which allows users to ask Google to delist some information concerning their online profiles. Google’s latest transparency report shows that the search engine has received 253,617 removal requests since May 2014, rejecting 70% according to the International Business Times. However it is important to note that removing content is a complex task, as shown here.

CNIL closes Google’s loophole

However, Google has found a loophole in the ruling that allows them to refrain from apply the ruling everywhere. This means that Google has only been removing information from searches carried out on its European sites.

The French data regulator, CNIL, has decided to close this loophole, after receiving “hundreds” of complaints where in some cases it believed Google should have complied. The BBC wrote that the regulator has given Google 15 days to apply the right to be forgotten to all of its search engines and has threatened the company with sanctions if they fail to comply.

Google released a statement in response, which said: “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.”

CNIL ruling coming to the UK?

This sets a precedent. The CNIL’s ruling has broadened the parameters of the right to be forgotten. Yes, at the moment this only applies in France, but the principle behind the decision is sound. This could see the CNIL ruling rolled out across other European countries, including the UK.

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