Google takes fight over global 'right to be forgotten' to top French court

Google takes fight over global 'right to be forgotten' to top French court
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Google is bringing the fight over whether to apply the “right to be forgotten” globally to France’s top administrative court.

Google is asking the court to rule against an order from the country’s privacy regulator requiring the company to remove search results covered under the “right to be forgotten” policy around the world.

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Under the policy, instituted by a European court in 2014, citizens can ask Google to de-list some links. Someone might ask, for example, that Google remove a link to a news article about a crime they had been convicted of if the conviction was overturned on appeal.

The French regulator has told Google that the links should be removed not just from the company’s European domains, but also from all of its search domains around the world. In March, regulators hit Google with a roughly $112,000 fine for not complying.

The company appealed the order to France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d'État, on Thursday.

“As a matter of both law and principle, we disagree with this demand. We comply with the laws of the countries in which we operate,” Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, wrote in a blog post. “But if French law applies globally, how long will it be until other countries — perhaps less open and democratic — start demanding that their laws regulating information likewise have global reach?

“We look forward to the Court’s review of this case, which we hope will maintain the rights of citizens around the world to access legal information.”

The company also recently changed part of the way it approaches the “right to be forgotten.” Links will not be visible whenever someone searches from the country where the person requesting the removal is a citizen, regardless of what domain they’re using.

That means that links removed at the behest of French citizens will not appear on Google’s U.S. domain if the search is performed in France. Searches in the United States would still yield the link.