France’s data protection agency has fined Google USD 112,000 for only partially honouring requests by individuals to have information about them removed from its search engines. The European Court of Justice has recognised the “right to be forgotten” since 2014, allowing individuals, under certain conditions, to have references to them removed from the Internet. Google has accorded the right for its European extensions google.fr and google.de for example—but not for google.com.
France’s National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) says the delisting should apply to all extensions, regardless of where the search is being performed. “Contrary to what Google says, delisting on all extensions does not impinge on freedom of expression in that it does not involve any removal of Internet content,” the CNIL said.
Google said early this month that it would close a loophole that allowed Europeans to find deleted entries by using google.com instead of the search page for their local country. “Starting next week, in addition to our existing practice, we will also use geolocation signals (like IP addresses) to restrict access to the delisted URL on all Google Search domains, including google.com, when accessed from the country of the person requesting the removal,” it said.
Google says it has received 86,600 requests in France involving more than a quarter million Web pages, and has honoured just over half of them. Those turned away can appeal to a judge or, more often, to CNIL, which has received 700 complaints of which 45 per cent were deemed legitimate and forwarded to Google.
“As a matter of principle, we respectfully disagree with the idea that a national data protection authority can assert global authority to control the content that people can access around the world,” Google’s privacy chief Peter Fleischer said in July.