Google must scrub search results worldwide when it agrees to requests from users to be "forgotten,” rather than just from European versions of its website, France's data protection regulator said on Friday.
The regulator (CNIL) said in a statement that if Google does not comply within 15 days, it can launch a process leading to sanctions, ramping up pressure on the U.S. giant following a landmark European legal ruling.
In May last year, the European Court of Justice ruled that European residents can ask search engines to delete results that turn up under a search for their name when they are out of date, irrelevant or inflammatory -- the so-called right to be forgotten.
Since then, Google and other search engines such as Microsoft's Bing and Yahoo have begun to grant de-listing requests when they meet certain criteria.
But there has been much debate over the implementation, especially of Google's decision only to scrub results from European sites, leading some to appeal to local regulators.
The company maintains it should only apply the ruling across its European domains, such as Google.fr in France and Google.de in Germany.
But EU data protection watchdogs, many legal experts and former German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who has advised Google on privacy following the European ruling, think it should be global.