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Google EU Privacy The Internet

France Tells Google To Remove "Right To Be Forgotten" Search Results Worldwide 381

An anonymous reader writes: France's data protection authority rejected Google's appeal to limit how a European privacy ruling may be applied worldwide. Since the European Court ruling last year Google has handled close to 320,000 requests, but only de-lists the links on European versions of its sites. "Contrary to what Google has stated, this decision does not show any willingness on the part of the C.N.I.L. to apply French law extraterritorially," the agency said in a statement.
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France Tells Google To Remove "Right To Be Forgotten" Search Results Worldwide

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  • by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @12:36AM (#50572033)

    With China being a MUCH bigger market and all, I could see Google just outright leaving France if it came down to it. Maybe Jacques Chirac would finally get his wish of a French owned search engine.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Darinbob ( 1142669 )

      It makes sense. The Right To Be Forgotten is one of those things that just can't be enforced well, which also runs counter to most other countries' ideas about fundamental rights. It is in every way censorship. If Google complies then it puts them in a bad position forever, and also puts other web search engines (even non-search sites) in a bad position as well. We'll see how well liberté works if the internet is blocked at the borders.

      • by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @12:51AM (#50572089)

        Another problem I'm having with this is that when you look at the way other countries handle information they don't like (that is, national firewalls) why is it that France doesn't just step up to the plate and create a GFW around their own border routers to prevent their citizens from accessing undesirable Google pages? Why is it Google's responsibility to make sure that French citizens can't see what their government doesn't want them to see?

        • by Schmorgluck ( 1293264 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @01:23AM (#50572179)
          Because Google has activities and even assets in the EU, and must comply with the EU's data policy.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            They should absolutely leave France. Individual EU countries have some extremely bizarre and authoritarian rules. If each and every one of them can apply them extra-nationally, then we have an intractable problem.

            For example: Sweden forbids communication of the race of criminals in their press. A muslim man rapes a white woman? The race of the attacker is protected by the state.

            Can Sweden enforce this anti-free-press ruling extra-nationally? What if they can?

            The only answer is to leave said little fi

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Ridiculous. There is no such law forbidding communication of the race in Sweden. What exist are volontary guidelines in the press to avoid mentioning race, religion, sexual orientation, etc, UNLESS it is relevant.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              A muslim man rapes a white woman? The race of the attacker is protected by the state.

              You know Muslim is not a race, right?

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              You are extrapolating way beyond what is possible. This ruling is only possible for things covered by European data protection rules, not random laws from individual member states.

              In any case, Google is beholden to US laws. If it gets a DMCA request it has to act, even if the site is in the EU and someone is searching for it on an EU TLD. Users in Europe regularly see notices about DMCA take-downs having removed search results when using their local Google sites. So if Google has to obey US law because it d

              • Haven't most if not all EU countries signed treaties with the USA that allows the DMCA and equivalent laws in the signatory countries to apply to everyone that signed the treaties? I am pretty sure at least that Germany and the USA have a treaty for that one and if something is taken down by a DMCA complaint in the USA it is also removed for Germany at least because of a treat that the USA and Germany signed.

                That is NOT the same as USA law applying world wide.

                • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

                  What agreements exist go both ways. If EU data protection laws say material must be removed, then the US will comply if it wants the EU to also respect its DMCA notices.

                  In actual fact the DMCA has no power in the EU. I regularly receive, occasionally mock and often ignore them.

                  • This is not how laws and treaties work.

                    They are over specific issues. If the USA and EU countries have laws about copyright and DMCA type laws then those would be enforced and it would have nothing to do with data protection laws.

                    I don't know if the EU and the USA have treaties for data protection laws that cover this kind of issue.

                    I know I can say things in the USA that are illegal in many EU countries and the USA won't deport for that ever. Very few laws are respected internationally.

            • What if a Christian rapes a white woman? Is the race of the attacker still protected?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @04:24AM (#50572593)

          To be fair, there is actually some sanity to the French ruling.

          Putting aside the argument about whether people like the level of data protection citizens in Europe get or not, the fact is that Google breached European data protection law - that is not in doubt, that is what the original "right to be forgotten" ruling is about - I put right to be forgotten in quotes, because none of this has anything to do with the right to be forgotten, that's a new thing that's being written and not even in law yet, quite why Google and the media are desperate to get that wrong all the fucking time I've no idea, but it is what it is.

          Google's breach was purely about the European Data Protection Directive and it's national implementations, given that we know Google breached European law in this area, it's also worth pointing out that Google should not have had this personal data in the first place. Under the Data Protection Directive, simply censoring it in one jurisdiction is not sufficient remedy, the law is clear, if Google is informed that it has data that is incorrect, no longer relevant, and it holds that data under no protective clause (e.g. law enforcement), then it must correct or remove this data - there's no "Oh it's okay, we've moved it offshore to America" - that in itself is illegal if it shouldn't be holding the data in the first place.

          This isn't just about Google, ALL companies wishing to operate in Europe and hold personal data fall under the exact same set of rules, it's only Google that seems to have a problem with it for whatever reason. But right or wrong, the fact is that simply censoring search results jurisdiction by jurisdiction was clearly never a valid legal remedy to the problem. It's not surprising that a court has pointed this out to Google - Google needs to understand that if it wants to operate in Europe, then any personal data it holds on Europeans must be protected to the exact same standards as every other company in Europe is expected to and largely does treat it. Oddly, I notice Google puts a blanket note saying some results may be censored on ANY search for a name on Google whether results are censored or not. It's odd that they do that when say, they only list DMCA takedown notices where a search result brings one up.

          Honestly, the fact Google is so alone in desperately fighting this one I'm genuinely beginning to wonder if there's some truth in the conspiracy theories about Google being an NSA data harvesting tool. The massively organised propaganda campaign it's creating on this one, whilst every other company operating in Europe manages to deal with the law without any issue is weird to say the least.

        • ... why is it that France doesn't just step up to the plate and create a GFW around their own border routers to prevent their citizens from accessing undesirable Google pages?

          I think you mean GMF. To be correctly French requires a name in French... "Grande Muraille de Feu".

        • Another problem I'm having with this is that when you look at the way other countries handle information they don't like (that is, national firewalls) why is it that France doesn't just step up to the plate and create a GFW around their own border routers to prevent their citizens from accessing undesirable Google pages? Why is it Google's responsibility to make sure that French citizens can't see what their government doesn't want them to see?

          You've got it completely backwards. This isn't about keeping people in France from seeing something.

          France is trying to protect their citizens' right to privacy / right to be forgotten / data rights globally instead of just in the EU (where they are protected by EU law).

          Google doesn't want to do this because they want to sell EU people (including French people) data as a product.

      • It makes sense. The Right To Be Forgotten is one of those things that just can't be enforced well, which also runs counter to most other countries' ideas about fundamental rights.

        Citation needed.

        • by ASDFnz ( 472824 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @01:33AM (#50572209)

          Citation needed.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          There you go :D .

        • by ruir ( 2709173 )
          Does it? As people said, those things cannot be run well. A known politician here that was a desertor and traitor to the country in our colonial wars is (ab)using the right to be forgotten, and essentially the pages he is asking to "forgotten" are a bit of our history by now. Oddly they still can be found using he alias, but not using his name.
          • There's a delicate balance to be found. In general, a public figure like a politician is less protected by courts than average citizens, because of the notion of public interest.
            • by rioki ( 1328185 )

              Google is a search engine, it should not be liable to the content it indexes. The "right to be forgotten" as applies to say Facebook makes sense, if you close your account you have the right that all content about you and of you is deleted. What google is handling is not data about people, it's data about publicly available web sites. If a news outlet reports falsely about you, bring it up to them (slander and libel laws). But articles that are truthful a few years in the past should not be magically delist

      • The Right To Be Forgotten is one of those things that just can't be enforced well, which also runs counter to most other countries' ideas about fundamental rights.

        I think it only runs counter to America's ideas about fundamental rights. Every other country seems to be fine about letting the government control what people can and can't see.

        • Does "every other country" mean EU and China only?

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          I think it only runs counter to America's ideas about fundamental rights. Every other country seems to be fine about letting the government control what people can and can't see.

          Wrong and wrong. The US government regulates what you can see just like every other government. Some documents are confidential or secret, some images (e.g. child pornography) are illegal to possess or view.

          Other countries have similar laws, but they also recognize that privacy is a freedom. The US is very big on "negative" freedoms, that is freedom from government interference, freedom from things that prevent you doing or saying what you want to. In particular, the almost absolute right to freedom of spee

    • Well, just because they lose localized search results doesn't mean another search engine will be successful. It might just mean that their citizens get more generic results, and less links to local businesses.

      Ask Spanish publishers how this all works out [arstechnica.com].

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm French and I kind of want google to blackout France for like a month.
      That'll teach us.

    • The story is wrong. The court did not instruct Google to delist worldwide. Rather, the court instructed Google to delist from all Google domains, but Google only needs to delist when the query comes from a European IP address.
      • I should have included the crucial paragraph in the story:

        CNIL also rejected Google's accusation that it was going beyond its jurisdiction, saying that it just wants non-European companies to respect European laws when offering their services in Europe.

        The critical text here is: "when offering services in Europe" . No compliance with the directive is needed when offering serivces outside of Europe.

        • Re:Story is wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

          by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @06:01AM (#50572857)

          The critical text here is: "when offering services in Europe" . No compliance with the directive is needed when offering serivces outside of Europe.

          Next stop:

          Google is responsible for policing requests made from VPNs for the French, since it's technologically impossible, but the French really hate VPNs, and are hoping Google will find a way of determining the origin country of a VPN through magic pixie dust...

          Allllllllll aaaaaabbbbboarrrrd! The insanity train is about to leave the station, and gaze into its naval! Fasten your seat belts, and keep your head, arms, and legs inside the technology ignorance train, until it comes to a complete stop!

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Allllllllll aaaaaabbbbboarrrrd! The insanity train is about to leave the station, and gaze into its naval!

            Yup, and you are the driver. You extrapolated from a clear, narrow ruling that demonstrates an understanding of how the internet works and what is required to comply with the law, into your own crazy fantasy.

            • Yup, and you are the driver. You extrapolated from a clear, narrow ruling that demonstrates an understanding of how the internet works and what is required to comply with the law, into your own crazy fantasy.

              --The Story so far --

              Insane policy: "Right to be forgotten" is technologically feasible
              Google response: Block default Google property from displaying "forgotten" content for users from France
              French users workaround: Go to a Google property in another country
              French government response: *All* Google properties must not display "forgotten" content for users from France
              [ ... ]
              -- Obvious escalation path --

              Naive idiot suggestion: Use same IPGIS system as a content blocking signal as is used for web site redirect

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DarkOx ( 621550 )

          Why should Google be responsible for Geo-locating request sources etc? That gets nasty quickly with things like VPNs etc.

          I think Google should just update their TOS to say if you are in Europe you are not permitted to access Googles search services except via one of our EU based domains.

          Then if the French come crying that when someone goes to www.google.com and still gets full search results. Google can just say well we never offered that service in the EU. People doing that are violating our terms of us

      • Basically a french court decides what kind a content on the internet a german may look at ?

    • Google could in protest stop indexing all french pages and then we will see the result.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Which would result in all French people going to another search engine. If it can't find popular French websites but Bing and Yahoo can, people won't blame that on the French government.

    • If they let France push them around then every nation will come up with some new way to try to push them around. And someday someone might even sue to have an offense against them remembered. How do you deal with things when one country says that recorded history must be erased world-wide and another says it must be preserved world-wide?

      Alternately, this would be a great test for how much the people of France want their government interfering with their use of the Internet. There just might be some feedbac

    • They don't need to leave France. They just need to detect if a French IP is trying to access Google sites other than google.fr, and redirect you to a page that says per French court decision, you are prohibited from using non-France Google services. Sucks for the tourists who are visiting France and want to do Google searches in any language other than French, but that's what VPNs are for.

      If France then wishes to prohibit VPNs, they'll raise the ire of both freedom-loving liberals who use VPNs for anon
    • China can outright block sites they don't like. France doesn't have the infrastructure to do that, and probably not the laws either. So while Google could have no corporate presence in France, they could still be a usable site in France by virtue of being accessible on the web.

      • China can outright block sites they don't like. France doesn't have the infrastructure to do that, and probably not the laws either. So while Google could have no corporate presence in France, they could still be a usable site in France by virtue of being accessible on the web.

        You are aware that this has to do with the French not getting the taxes they feel they are owed for contracts negotiated in France, but executed in Ireland, right?

        If Google does not come down on this like a ton of bricks as soon as the enforcement starts, who wants to bet that the "fine" will be exactly the amount France feels it is owed on those contracts, despite France having willingly signed on to be an EU member state, with all that entails, regarding civil commercial contracts?

    • It seems the French government is only complaining about people within France being able to change too easily from Google.fr to Google.com to get around the censorship.

      In other words, if China were to ask the same thing (and they could since Google has decided to go back there), it would demand that the original Daila Lama be removed from all the googles search results of all the countries (when those other googles are being accessed from a Chinese ip geolocation). Technically, this is feasible, but imagine

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Google already has all the infrastructure to enable this kind of geographic blocking. When you go to google.com from the EU, the site isn't served from the US. It is served from the EU, from a server fairly near where you are. Google have massive infrastructure to route requests to geographically close servers to keep latency low, and those servers area all capable of supplying multiple versions of Google's sites.

        The court understands this and won't buy any arguments that it's technically difficult or expen

    • The French Statement is malarkey. "Finally, contrary to what Google has stated, this decision does not show any willingness on the part of the CNIL to apply French law extraterritorially. It simply requests full observance of European legislation by non European players offering their services in Europe." So we're not applying our laws extraterritorially, we're requiring the company to do so if they want to do business here.

      To be fair, a lot of other countries have some form of that. But it's still ridic

    • With China being a MUCH bigger market and all, I could see Google just outright leaving France if it came down to it. Maybe Jacques Chirac would finally get his wish of a French owned search engine.

      One having nothing to do with another.

      China wanted Google out, for one thing - and did whatever they had to do to get them to leave.

      This is about protecting people's rights under EU data law (but globally) - not about removing people's rights further (i.e. the China scenario)

  • Google: *leaves world's fastest growing market*

    Good luck France.

  • by jader3rd ( 2222716 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @01:49AM (#50572265)
    If removing the results worldwide isn't apply French Law extraterritorially, what is it?
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It's applying it to a French company, Google France SarL. Actually if you look here [sec.gov] you can see that there are quite a few Google companies in the EU, who must obey EU laws.

    • If removing the results worldwide isn't apply French Law extraterritorially, what is it?

      Does France have the right to protect it's citizens worldwide?

  • by jarkus4 ( 1627895 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @01:50AM (#50572269)

    Google just removed the results from some local domains (fr, co.uk etc), but left it working for com domain. Basically it means they failed at delisting since EU citizen can still easily avoid it. Instead they should comply by doing some kind of geoip delisting as then they would be really compliant within EU jurisdiction.

    • by pahles ( 701275 )
      No shit! You think they did it on purpose?
    • Why should they? People in France are likely to use Google.fr because it's more relevant (and the correct language).
      Should EU courts also be allowed to force companies to filter content when they receive phone calls from within the EU?

      If you don't want your citizens viewing content that is not allowed to be served in your county then block it yourself, don't expect others to do your dirty work for you. Fortunately, the people in charge are slowly waking up to the idea that that isn't even remotely possible.

    • I suspect Google is trying to avoid delisting based on geographical IP because when we eventually move to IPv6, maintaining a geo-IP database would mean tracking and looking up IPs against a database 10^38 bits in size.

      The fundamental problem here is the French court wants to apply physical geographical boundaries to something happening in virtual non-geographical space. While Google can, with enough work, sort of kind of make that virtual space map to geographical boundaries today, there's no guarantee
    • Google just removed the results from some local domains (fr, co.uk etc), but left it working for com domain. Basically it means they failed at delisting since EU citizen can still easily avoid it. Instead they should comply by doing some kind of geoip delisting as then they would be really compliant within EU jurisdiction.

      No, I am in France using google.com and searching (for example on myself) I get this message at the bottom of the results page:
      Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe.

  • Do they even know, what they are asking for? If they are absolutely insisting on enforcing the ludicrous "right to be forgotten" a Great Firewall of Europe it needs to be then, as only that will enable the invention of history, which at its core it is.
  • by luvirini ( 753157 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @04:27AM (#50572605)

    The French do not try to apply them worldwide.

    They want Google to apply them to all searched from France regardless of the domain name. Today you can just type in google.com or any other national domain and bypass the law.

    • So what they want is a regioncoded Internet where every company deliver a different internet depending on from which country you come from ?

      Sorry, but IP-adresses and the web protocol don't contain any information about which country someone is from.

    • by pla ( 258480 )
      They want Google to apply them to all searched from France regardless of the domain name. Today you can just type in google.com or any other national domain and bypass the law.

      So the French government blames Google for the fact that their population contains evil, evil lawbreakers actively seeking a way around whatever restraints on free speech the CNIL may, in its infinite wisdom, decide to use to "protect" the French people?

      Ford make it possible for me to exceed the speed limit. That doesn't make Fo
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @04:49AM (#50572649)

    Complying with your request in this manner is rather hard due to other laws of other countries we do business in that we actually do have to comply with (unlike, say, yours). Instead we did the next best thing and removed all French results worldwide. We hope this satisfies you.

    --signed, Google.

  • Go limp (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @05:01AM (#50572673) Homepage

    I'd go limp: "We'll comply with your request. Please send us the contact information for the service that you'll accept as authoritative for whether or not a request from a particular IP address originates in France or not. We'll also require a binding agreement that the determination of this service cannot be contested by either Google or the French government, and that if any third party demonstrates that the service made an incorrect determination use of that service will be discontinued and the French government shall not demand compliance from Google until the French government has selected a new authority. Until we are in receipt of this information and agreement, Google will unfortunately be unable to operate the French-localized Google site and will be unable to serve search results for France or any French entity or person. Have a nice day.".

  • by nickweller ( 4108905 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @06:02AM (#50572873)
    How Hidden From Google started [afaqtariq.com].

    List of BBC web pages which have been removed from Google's search results [bbc.co.uk]

    "Google .. has not proceeded with delisting on other geographical extensions or on google.com, which any internet user may alternatively visit .. this decision does not show any willingness on the part of the CNIL to apply French law extraterritorially. It simply requests full observance of European legislation by non European players offering their services in Europe." ref [www.cnil.fr]
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      That BBC page is interesting. You can see that there are lots of pages about criminals, where people who are not criminals are also mentioned. Since serious crimes that are never considered spent can't be the grounds for a Right to be Forgotten request, we can be fairly certain that the innocent people were the ones who requested removal when searching for their name.

      Is that really a bad thing? They didn't do anything wrong, and don't want to be associated with the criminal. It might affect their employment

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