Google disobeys French request to extend ‘right to be forgotten’

Search engine giant 'respectfully' rejects French digital watchdog ruling which said it should extend this right beyond Europe to rest of world.

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Google will disobey a formal notice from France’s privacy watchdog which has demanded the company extends Europe’s “right to be forgotten” online around the world, in a move that risks further legal action on the continent, reports The Financial Times.

Last month, the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL) issued Google with a formal notice, arguing that links must also be stripped internationally to comply with the law.

On Thursday, Google said it will “respectfully disagree” with the French watchdog’s demands and said it has asked for the formal notice to be removed.

“While the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally,” said Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel at Google.

He said there are “innumerable” examples around the world where content that is declared illegal under the laws of one country, would be deemed legal in others. “Thailand criminalises some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalizes some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be “gay propaganda,” he said.

“If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place.”

Google said the CNIL’s request was “disproportionate” because 97 per cent of French internet users access Google.fr, the French version of its search engine, rather than any other edition.

Read more of this report from The Financial Times.

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