Google Fined by French Privacy Agency for Not Removing Links

  • Google to pay 100,000 euros for not removing links from site
  • Fine follows EU court ruling setting out right to be forgotten

Google was fined 100,000 euros ($112,000) by France’s data-protection authority for failing to remove “right-to-be-forgotten” requests from global search results.

The agency, CNIL, ordered Google to remove links after it got several complaints from people who wanted the search engine to delete search results that pointed to personal information about them. While Google removed links from its French ".fr" domain, it didn’t take them off the ".com" domain visible to European web users.

The right for people to have these links removed "must be carried out on all of the data processing and thus on all search engine’s domains," CNIL said in a statement on its website Thursday. "Contrary to what Google asserts, delisting on all domains doesn’t limit the freedom of expression in that it doesn’t involve any removal of Internet content."

The fine follows a judgment by the EU’s highest court in May 2014 which created a right to be forgotten -- allowing people to seek the deletion of links on search engines if the information was outdated or irrelevant. The ruling provoked a furor, with Alphabet Inc.’s Google creating a special panel to advise it on implementing the law. The panel opposed applying the ruling beyond EU domains.

Google disagrees "with the CNIL’s assertion that it has the authority to control the content that people can access outside France," said Al Verney, a spokesman for the company in Brussels. "We plan to appeal their ruling."

The company said earlier this month it would add geo-blocking technology to make it harder for users to find information, moving away from its practice of delisting links only on European domain names.

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