France Rejects Google’s ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Appeal

Google’s appeal against the “right to be forgotten” (RtBF) has been rejected by the French data protection authority, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL).

Back in June, France gave Google 15 days to apply the RtBF ruling not just regionally, but to its entire search database. However, Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel, wrote in a blog post that “as a matter of principle, we respectfully disagree with the CNIL’s assertion of global authority on this issue and we have asked the CNIL to withdraw its formal notice.”

Under RtBF, Europeans can request the removal of links, as long as they have a compelling reason why the content is incorrect, irrelevant, obsolete or inflammatory. Google fielded hundreds of thousands of requests earlier this year, honoring about 40 percent of them. The search giant only removed the links on its local sites, such as and, which means the information is still accessible on – part of the reason for the CNIL’s rejection.

“If this right was limited to some extensions, it could be easily circumvented: in order to find the delisted result, it would be sufficient to search on another extension – searching in France using – namely to use another form of access to the processing,” said CNIL president Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin in an official statement. “This would equate stripping away the efficiency of this right, and applying variable rights to individuals depending on the Internet user who queries the search engine and not on the data subject.”

In its own statement, Google said, “As a matter of principle, we respectfully disagree with the idea that a single national Data Protection Authority should determine which webpages people in other countries can access via search engines.”

France is not the only European nation to clash with Google about RtBF, but it has been the most adamant. According to a November Guardian article, France leads the European Union in RtBF requests – Germany and the U.K. are in second and third place – in addition to being the first country to punish the company. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill this summer that would make Russia’s RtBF guidelines the strictest in Europe, effective January 1.

Google is expected to start delisting information about French residents from its search results immediately. Failure to comply could result in up to €150,000 in fines (about $168,000) with possible repeat offense penalties that double that amount.

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