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Google locks horns with French regulators in latest Right to be Forgotten battle

GOOGLE IS FIGHTING France’s Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) to overturn a ruling to purge global search results under the Right to be Forgotten ruling relating to privacy-paranoid French folk.

Google normally has to apply the Right to be Forgotten rule only in Europe, but the CNIL wants Google to apply the rulings to all search results, even in nations where the ruling has no effect.

However, Google has appealed to the highest court in France, arguing that the ruling would create a dangerous precedent and block access to search results in regions where that access is perfectly legal.

Google claimed that doing this would lead to more abuse of search results in countries that are perhaps less concerned about free access to information.

“As a matter of law and principle, we disagree with this demand. We comply with the laws of the countries in which we operate,” said Kent Walker, senior vice president and general counsel at the company, on Google’s European policy blog.

“But if French law applies globally, how long will it be until other countries – perhaps less open and democratic – start demanding that their laws regulating information likewise have global reach?

“This order could lead to a global race to the bottom, harming access to information that is perfectly lawful to view in one’s own country.

“We look forward to the court’s review of this case, which we hope will maintain the rights of citizens around the world to access legal information.”

Google has been fairly busy in delisting search results in Europe under Right to be Forgotten requests, claiming to have reviewed over 1.5 million web pages. The figure sits at 300,000 in France alone since the ruling came into effect in 2014.

The Right to be Forgotten has caused a few headaches for Google, including a data leak showing that the requests were submitted mostly by normal people rather than privacy-obsessed celebrities.

The BBC bypassed Google’s removal of links for some Right to be Forgotten requests and posted them on its site to keep licence payers informed. µ

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