Business, Legal

Google’s ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Appeal Rejected by French Regulator

A request made by Google to the French privacy regulator for letting go of the ruling of implementing the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ rule on not just European domain names, but all Google websites was rejected. A loophole has to be closed by the search engine giant because of the decision as last year, a judgement made by the European Union had been defeated by researchers exploiting this loophole. In May 2014, the Right to be Forgotten was recognized by the CJEU, which gave people the authority to ask search engines to remove certain links from search results of their names.

A Spanish lawyer had triggered the CJEU case when he had asked Google not to provide links of an old announcement in the local newspaper concerning the auction of his property for debt repayment ordered by the court if a search was conducted on his name. While human nature may soon forget someone’s drunken antics or a long tax debt, search engines can provide everyone with details of these events within seconds. The right to be forgotten rule doesn’t indicate that these tidbits are removed completely. For instance, in the Spanish case, the court said that the announcement should be made difficult to unearth rather than erasing it altogether.

This exception is to be made in the public interest as people should be able to get evidence of the past misdeeds of politicians or other important individuals. The Silicon Valley giant complied with the ruling and certain results were removed when requests were made for searches pertaining to Google.co.uk, Google.fr and other European websites. In fact, it also provided an online tool for making it easier for people to request the search engine to remove their links. However, these links were still displayed by the firm on Google.com. Thus, this was basically a way around the ruling and people could still obtain uncensored results.

The privacy watchdog in France, the French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL) was annoyed due to this loophole and ordered Google to erase the disputed links from all its websites in May. Tens of thousands of requests have been set to the search engine from French citizens for forgetting their search results. An informal appeal was filed by Google in July opposing the order. The company argued that it was against the public’s right for information and also stretched the French law beyond the country’s borders.

However, this request was turned down by CNIL as it said that the numerous domain names of the websites led to the same fountain of information so it would be easy to circumvent the right to be forgotten rule. It also said that they weren’t going against jurisdiction as it is just asking companies to adhere to European law when providing their services. Nonetheless, there isn’t much pressure on the search giant to comply with this ruling and even now the CNIL is simply threatening to report Google indicating that the national privacy regulators don’t really have a lot of power. 

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