Alphabet Inc’s Google, the American multinational conglomerate, appealed an order on Thursday from the French data protection authority to permanently take down certain web search results globally in response to a European privacy ruling, mounting a fight on the territorial reach of EU law.
Google complied back in 2014, when the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that people had the right to request search engines to remove inadequate information from web results that show up under searches for people’s names.
The aforementioned was done under the title of “right to be forgotten” however Google only removed results across its European websites; Google.de in Germany and Google.fr in France, arguing that to do otherwise would set a dangerous precedent on the territorial reach of national laws.
Later in February, Google started delisting results across all its domains when accessed from the country where the request came from, however the French regulator, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL), fined Google 100,000 euros ($112,150.00) in March for not delisting more widely. Noting that Google approves around 40 percent of requests for the removal of links popping up under searches for people’s names, according to its Transparency Report.
“As a matter of both law and principle, we disagree with this demand,” Kent Walker, Google’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel, wrote in a blog post.
“We comply with the laws of the countries in which we operate. 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?”
The company filed its appeal of the CNIL’s order with France’s supreme administrative court, the Council of State.
The CNIL has argued that the right to privacy should not depend on the location of a third person and that extending the right to be forgotten to all of Google’s versions does not curtail the freedom of expression because no content is actually deleted, it simply does not appear in search results.