A French data protection agency today denied an appeal by search-giant Google in a case involving the controversial right to be forgotten ruling.
In a press release, the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (or CNIL) upheld its decision earlier this year that Google must apply the right to be forgotten ruling to all of its search sites, including Google.com.
A European court ruled in 2014 that any individual can request that some results connected to their names be removed from search engines under certain criteria. Google created a process to do that, and has since received thousands of such requests.
However, the company has only been removing results from European-based versions of its search engine, such as Google.uk and Google.fr.
Last May, CNIL informed Google that the right to be forgotten extended to all of its sites. Google appealed, and has waged a public campaign, arguing that no one country or region has the right to demand its laws be enforced in other territories.
But CNIL, in its statement today, disagreed with Google’s rationale. The agency noted that people living in France and Europe can still access sites like Google.com, and thus those results needed to be scrubbed as well.
“If this right was limited to some extensions, it could be easily circumvented: in order to find the delisted result, it would be sufficient to search on another extension (e.g. searching in France using google.com), namely to use another form of access to the processing,” the agency said. “This would equate stripping away the efficiency of this right, and applying variable rights to individuals depending on the internet user who queries the search engine and not on the data subject.”
In a statement to Reuters, a Google spokesman said: “As a matter of principle, we respectfully disagree with the idea that a single national Data Protection Authority should determine which webpages people in other countries can access via search engines.”
CNIL said Google now must abide by the ruling, and if it does not, it could face fines in the coming months.