Google has granted about 40 per cent of the nearly 320,000 'right to be forgotten' requests it has received

France presses 'right to be forgotten' case against Google

France's data protection watchdog has rejected Google's request to drop a case relating to the search engine's refusal to delist French citizens' data on its non-EU sites.

The Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) ordered the internet giant to remove search results appearing under a person's name from all its websites under Europe's so-called 'right to be forgotten', but the US company refused in July and requested that the CNIL abandon its efforts.

The French authority officially refused to do so today and a CNIL spokesman said Google was required to comply immediately otherwise the regulator will spend the next two months preparing sanctions that can include up to €150,000 (£109,000) in fines, climbing to €300,000 for repeat offences.

"The President of the CNIL rejects Google's informal appeal against the formal notice requesting it to apply delisting on all of the search engine's domain names," the watchdog said.

The right to be forgotten, established by a European Court of Justice ruling last year, allows residents of the EU to ask search engines such as Google and Microsoft's Bing to remove information that appears under a search of their name if it is incorrect, out of date, irrelevant or inflammatory.

Google has granted about 40 per cent of the nearly 320,000 requests it has received since then, but it has refused to de-list the links on its global sites like Google.com, instead only de-listing them on European versions like Google.fr or Google.de.

This means the information is still available online, but while France is the first European country to open a legal process to punish Google, an umbrella group of European data protection watchdogs backed their position in December.

The group said removing the information globally was the only way to ensure the "effective and complete protection of data subjects' rights and that EU law cannot be circumvented".

Google said it had worked hard to implement the right to be forgotten ruling "thoughtfully and comprehensively in Europe" and would continue to do so.

"But as a matter of principle, we respectfully disagree with the idea that a single national Data Protection Authority should determine which webpages people in other countries can access via search engines," said a spokesman for the company.

In July, Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel, called France's request to clean up global results "troubling" and said it could risk "serious chilling effects on the web".

"While the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally," Fleischer wrote.

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