Google has been under pressure from European and national authorities for the past two years regarding the referencing of individuals within the search engine.. Can the CNIL impose its law on Google worldwide? The question is currently at the heart of a dispute between the French administrative authority and the American giant.
It all started with the case "Google Spain in 2014, at the end of which the European Court of Justice condemned the global internet giant to withdraw the "inadequate, irrelevant or excessive" results referring to the names of people who did not want it or no longer wanted it and made the request.
Following this decision, the search engine received tens of thousands of queries from French citizens. They are said to be seeking to exercise their "right to oblivion", although this does not currently explicitly exist in European and French legislation or case law.
Google's attempts to evade the right to oblivion
Following the decision of the Strasbourg Court, Google has acceded to the requests of Internet users in a half-hearted manner. After having created a form for this purpose, it proceeded to dereferencing certain results but only on the European extensions of the search engine such as google.fr or google.uk. Conversely, it categorically refuses to enforce the right to forget people on the portal google.com. However, anyone can use this extension, which amounts to making referencing illusory.
In May 2015, faced with this lack of will, the president of the National Commission for Information Technology and Liberties (CNIL) publicly called on the world's number one search engine to accede to requests for dereferencing on all the company's domain names. Google filed an ex gratia appeal at the end of July 2015, arguing that the injunction would impede its users' right to information while at the same time introducing a form of censorship. According to the company, it is not the role of a national data protection agency to claim to be "a global authority to control the information accessed by Internet users around the world".
After the rejection of this appeal, the CNIL initiated sanction proceedings against Google, which resulted in a fine of €100,000 for failing to apply the right to oblivion to all of its geographical extensions.
Google appeals against its conviction by the CNIL (Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés)
This Thursday, May 19, 2016, Google has appealed against this mild sentence in view of the astronomical turnover of this company under U.S. law, which was 66 billion dollars in 2014, or 19% more than in 2013. We deduce that Google is making this a personal matter, a matter of principle: the company does not want to allow itself to be dictated to by the Court of Justice of the European Union and certainly not by a French administrative authority.
Like David against Goliath, the CNIL's fight against Google is extremely unbalanced. We can only salute the perseverance of the CNIL in its confrontation with Google to ensure that the rights of French individuals are respected throughout the world. The bill for a Digital Republic reinforces the CNIL's position by enshrining a right to oblivion for minors. In addition, any person will now be able to organize the conditions of storage and communication of personal data concerning them after their death, which can be linked to the right to oblivion. Between net neutrality and the right to oblivion, choices will have to be made and they will have to be imposed on Google, which augurs well for the judicial saga on dereferencing.