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Google defies France over "right to be forgotten"
Google finally said enough is enough when it comes to Europe censoring its search results. It issued a bold challenge to France.
Google made a dramatic gesture to oppose censorship of its search results on Wednesday, telling French regulators in a blog post that it will not heed demands to implement so-called “right to be forgotten” requests on a worldwide basis. The move, which sets the stage for further confrontations between Google and France, also highlights a growing legal crisis for the internet.
The issue at stake relates to a controversial European Court of Justice decision from 2014 that forces Google to strip certain links from its search results. The decision provided a way for people to ask Google GOOG -0.57% to remove “irrelevant” or “inadequate” search results, and has already led to more than a quarter million requests flooding into Google. But the rules for processing the requests are far from clear.
The biggest concern for Google right now is not just determining if a request meets the court’s “irrelevant” criteria, but deciding how far it must go to delete the requests. According to France’s data regulator, it is not sufficient for Google to remove a result from its European search pages (Google.fr, Google.de and so on). The regulator also insists the company must scrub the links worldwide by deleting them from its “Google.com” website too.
In its statement, published on the Google Europe Blog, the company said it will refuse to do that:
This is a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web. Because while the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally … As a matter of principle, therefore, we respectfully disagree with the CNIL’s assertion of global authority on this issue and we have asked the CNIL to withdraw its Formal Notice.The blog post also points out that 97% of Google searches in France take place on the European versions of the site (rather than Google.com), meaning the “right to be forgotten” is almost entirely in effect for practical purposes....MORE