The French internet censor has responded to a Google statement which explains why European internet censorship cannot be applied across the world.This summer, France’s Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL) sent Google an order to not merely delist links from European Google searches but search results around the world, too. Google responded:
This is a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web.
CNIL’s president did not find this persuasive, rejecting Google’s appeal of the order. In a statement released today, CNIL claimed that:
Once delisting is accepted by the search engine, it must be implemented on all extensions, because 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 and this would equate stripping away the efficiency of this right.
CNIL pointed out that delisted info remains directly accessible on the source website or through a search using other terms than an individual’s name and:
In addition, this right is not absolute: it has to be reconciled with the public’s right to information, in particular when the data subject is a public person, under the double supervision of the CNIL and of the court.
Google must now comply with the formal notice or face CNIL’s sanctions committee.
There’s no further opportunity to appeal the decision at this stage under French law. But if Google refuses to comply, it could later appeal any sanctions levied by CNIL. Fines would likely start at around € 300,000 but could increase to between 2-5% of Google’s global operating costs. The search engine could then go to the Conseil d’Etat, the supreme court for administrative justice, to appeal the decision and fine.