Google defies France over making right to be forgotten global

The search engine has rejected an order by the French data protection watchdog to apply the right to be forgotten to all its domains, including those outside Europe.

Google has rejected a call by France's data watchdog to extend the right to be forgotten across the globe.

The right to be forgotten, introduced last year following a ruling by the European Court of Justice, allows European citizens to request Google stops returning links to information that is deemed out of date, excessive, or irrelevant when people search for their names.

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Google has reviewed over 250,000 requests from Europeans since the right to be forgotten was brought in, and for those requests it grants, it stops linking to the material when searches are made through its European domains - google.es for Spain, for example, or google.de for Germany.

Last month, France's data commissioner CNIL ordered that the delisting should also be applied to searches made through Google's international domains, such as Google.com. It gave Google 15 days to begin complying.

On Thursday, Google requested that CNIL remove the order and saying it disagrees with the watchdog's stance.

"We believe that no one country should have the authority to control what content someone in a second country can access. We also believe this order is disproportionate and unnecessary, given that the overwhelming majority of French internet users -- currently around 97 percent -- access a European version of Google's search engine like google.fr, rather than Google.com or any other version of Google," Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel, wrote on the company's European blog.

The search engine argued that due to the fact some material is considered illegal in some countries and not others, if it were to apply with CNIL's order, it would begin a "race to the bottom" where the "internet would only be as free as the world's least free place".

A spokesperson for CNIL confirmed that the organisation had received Google request to reconsider its order, and that it would examine the appeal and deliver a verdict within the statutory two-month period.

After that, Google's appeal will either be accepted or rejected, in which case CNIL has the option of fining Google if it continued not to comply.

"We noted that Google's arguments are in part political. CNIL however relied purely on legal reasoning," the spokesperson said.

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