The French data protection authority CNIL announced that it has fined Google €100 000 or about $111 720. The fine is due to the company’s failure to comply with an EU directive concerning the right to be forgotten. The law allows EU citizens to request that search engines remove links to sites that contain information about them that is inaccurate, out of date, or violates their privacy.
Google had previously attempted to comply with the law by delisting links from its search engine on request, but only for sites with European domain names like google.fr or google.de. This meant that the removed links would still appear when using google.com. European regulators argued that this was still not good enough, stating the ease at which Europeans could switch to a different domain to conduct their searches. As a result, Google announced an expansion on its right to be forgotten policy, earlier this year. Google would use an IP based location tracking system and remove links from search results within the EU regardless of what domain they used for the search.
These measures were still not enough to satisfy CNIL. The agency insisted that the right to privacy was not dependent on geographic location of the viewer. CNIL stated, “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.”
A representative from the company expressed their disagreement, “But as a matter of principle, we disagree with the CNIL’s assertion that it has the authority to control the content that people can access outside France, and we plan to appeal their ruling.”
There may be even more trouble ahead. The right to be forgotten applies across the EU, and other European regulators may be fining the company on this matter in the future. So far, regulators have not addressed concerns about the implementation of the right to be forgotten which allows politicians and public figures to bury things in their past which may be of public interest.
Should Google implement the right to be forgotten globally? How do you think they should resolve this issue? Is the fine fair? Leave your comments below.