Google, France & the Right to be Forgotten

Categories: governance
Tags: law, privacy

What? Following the EU Court of Justice's 2014 "Right to be Forgotten" ruling, Google is appealing the French government's decision to fine the company for not removing requested links from all its global search engines. In 2014, the EU Court ruled that Google must remove links on its search engines upon request from EU residents with privacy concerns. In response to such requests, Google removed links from its EU search engines. However, the same links were available on Google sites outside of the EU. As a result, the French data authority fined Google $100,000 euros for non-compliance since French residents can easily access these non-EU Google servers using location changing software.

So what? The Google Right to be Forgotten case has ignited international legal, political, and technological debate on whether court rulings can be applied extraterritorially, a major issue for Internet-based companies. If Google wins its appeal, we may see the creation of international organizations (such as an international data authority) with jurisdiction to address internet issues that transcend national borders. If Google loses the appeal and is forced to remove Right to be Forgotten-related links from all its global search engines, we will be witnessing a marked shift in how states exercise control and jurisdiction in cyberspace. We may also see technology companies attempt to avoid national laws and regulations through technical means.

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