from the CNIL:-WE-ARE-THE-WORLD dept
France's privacy regulator thinks it should be able to control what the world sees in Google's search results. Back in June, the regulator said Google must apply the "right to be forgotten" ruling across all of its domains, not just Google.fr, etc.
Google rightly responded, "Go
fuck forget yourself" (but in appeal form), as Jennifer Baker of The Register reports.
Google had argued that around 97 per cent of French users use Google.fr rather than Google.com, that CNIL was trying to apply French law extra-territorially and that applying the RTBF on its global domains would impede the public’s right to information and would be a form of censorship.But France seems intent on standing up for the 3%. The regulating body has rejected Google's appeal and declared its intent on bending the world to its interpretation of the RTBF ruling. As it sees it, what's good for France is good for the rest of the connected world. And since all roads lead through Google, a deletion honored at Google.fr must also be delisted at Google.com
From the ruling:
Geographical extensions are only paths giving access to the processing operation. Once delisting is accepted by the search engine, it must be implemented on all extensions, in accordance with the judgment of the ECJ.Yes, delisting at one domain means it's still accessible at others. That's the way these things are supposed to work. Perhaps the government bodies involved in this decision might have considered the unintended side effects before deciding RTBF was a great idea with minimal flaws.
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 (e.g. searching in France using google.com) , namely to use another form of access to the processing. 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 any case, the right to delisting never leads to deletion of the information on the internet; it merely prevents some results to be displayed following a search made on the sole basis of a person’s name. Thus, the information remains directly accessible on the source website or through a search using other terms. For instance, it is impossible to delist an event.
The general tone of the regulator's response is that Google is being deliberately obtuse when it claims compliance at Google.fr (for example) is following the letter of the law. The French governing body wants Google to follow the spirit of the law, which means basically anticipating various governments' next moves after another hole in their "forget me now" plan presents itself.
CNIL then makes this disingenuous statements about its decision.
Finally, contrary to what Google has stated, this decision does not show any willingness on the part of the CNIL to apply French law extraterritorially. It simply requests full observance of European legislation by non European players offering their services in Europe.If this is what it's actually requesting, complying at French domains would be all that was required of Google. But it isn't. It's asking for "full observance" and then leaving it up to Google to comply with requests in countries where the Right to Be Forgotten isn't recognized as an actual "right."
Those behind the push for a right to be forgotten should have seen this coming. They also should have recognized the limits of their desires. Pushing Google to delist any RTBF request across all domains allows Europe to decide what can and can't be seen (at least through Google's search engine) by the rest of the world. And yet, the regulating body calling for this ridiculous "solution" has the gall to claim it's not actually applying its decision extra-territorially, but that Google's global reach somehow obliges it to do this "voluntarily," if only to maintain the consistency regulators had in mind when they started enforcing the "right to be forgotten."
The deflectionary reminder that the content isn't actually deleted from the web is a cheap dodge. What's never acknowledged in these rulings is that removing links from search engine results is pretty much the same thing as removing it from the original websites. If search engines can't "find" it, it ceases to exist for all intents and purposes. Giving people the power to selectively edit the web without even acquiring a court order was -- and is -- a bad idea. The EU continues to assert the general public has the right to rewrite their own history, and now, with decisions like these, it's forcing the rest of the world to play along with these edited narratives.