Google have been handed a fine by the French data protection authorities as a result of them failing to conform to the ‘right to be forgotten’ as ordered.
In a decision made last year by the French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL), Google would have to agree to requests made for the delisting of personal information, not just on its products under European domains, but across all Google properties. Previous to this, Google had been removing requested personal results from the European versions of its search engine, including google.co.uk and google.fr, excluding other instances of the site, such as google.com, which is still accessible from within Europe.
This breach of the ruling could have allowed CNIL to charge Google as much as €300,000, however, the French organization, in the end, settled on only a €100,000 fine.
The right to be forgotten has existed since 2014 when a European court ruling allowed Spaniard Mario Costeja González to erase online evidence of a court-ordered auction of his real estate to recover debts. Those hosting the information were allowed to keep it online, but Google was ordered to remove all reference to the articles from searches of Costeja González’ name. The spirit of the decision being that minor misdemeanors or embarrassments could be covered up, but not completely removed.
Google still refuse to conform with the ruling as closely as CNIL would like, with information hidden on worldwide services, but only for users in the same nation as the one who requested the removal. For example, a Spanish user would no longer be able to find references to the auction on any Google product, including google.com, but a user from another European nation would be able to get the results through any non-European Google domain.
With over 400,000 people having already invoked their right to be delisted in Europe, they would hope that their past acts could be forgotten by all, not just those of their nation. It is unclear as to whether CNIL will make any efforts for Google to more broadly delist people, but with a fine already levied against them, they may be more compliant should the cost get steeper.