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Google is resisting a French data protection commission's order that it scrub search results worldwide when users are granted "right to be forgotten" requests. Google calls the order "a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web," and is refusing to comply.
A landmark 2014 ruling by the European Court of Justice gave Europeans the right to ask Google, Bing and other search engines to "delist" links that turn up under a search for their name when the linked information is deemed inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant or excessive.
Google says it has processed more than a quarter million "forgotten" requests in Europe since the ruling. However, in June, France’s data protection regulator, the CNIL, ordered Google to remove "forgotten" links not just in European versions of search, such as google.fr, but from all versions globally, such as google.com. The commission said if Google does not comply, the company could face fines.
In a blog post on Thursday, Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel, said no one country should have the authority to control the content someone in a second country can access. "If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place," Fleischer wrote.
He said Google has asked the CNIL to withdraw its formal notice.