While Google did in fact comply with the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) May 2014 order, which allowed individuals in Europe to request that a search engine ‘delist’ certain information about them from Internet links that harm their privacy, and did process over 25 million individual requests for information removal from all European versions of Google Search, the company is not ready to apply this standard globally. This ‘right to be forgotten’ law applies not only to defamatory or untrue information, but also to news stories, court records, and other lawful materials, as well as accurate, publicly available information.
On July 30, 2015, Google rejected an order by France’s data protection regulator that required Google to apply Europe’s ‘right to be forgotten’ law on a global scale. Google said that France’s order was a “troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the Web.” Essentially, if Google were to follow France’s order, that would mean that an approved removal request by an individual in France, would not only remove the information from google.fr and other European versions of Google Search, but from all versions of Google Search around the world.
To date, Google has received about 55,400 requests from individuals in France since the ‘right to be forgotten’ law was first announced, and it has already removed almost 75,000 Internet links from its European Google Search domain.
Google said in a public statement,
While the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally. Moreover, there are innumerable examples around the world where content that is declared illegal under the laws of one country, would be deemed legal in others: Thailand criminalizes some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalizes some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be ‘gay propaganda.’… [and] [i]n the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place.
Google stated that “as a matter of principle” it respectfully disagrees with France’s order and has requested that France withdraw its Formal Notice. We will keep you updated on the outcome of Google’s non-compliance and how this might affect the ‘right to be forgotten’ across the globe.