France rejects Google's 'Right To Be Forgotten' Appeal

French data protection regulator demands that search giant extends ‘delisting' across all its international domains.

CNIL (Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés), the French data protection watchdog, has rejected Google’s appeal against an order which required the company to apply the 'right to be forgotten' to Google’s search results worldwide across all its domains.

In May 2014, the European Court of Justice officially recognised the 'right to be forgotten' on the internet, meaning that users can ask Google to 'delist' results about themselves that they deem 'inaccurate, inadequate, or irrelevant'. However, although Google removes references from searches made in European versions of its site such as or, it does not do so on other international domains, including

In May 2015, CNIL put Google on notice to proceed with delisting across all domain names, and in response Google filed an appeal asking that this notice be withdrawn, arguing that it would be a form of censorship which impeded the public’s right to information.

In a statement, CNIL said that to limit the right to be forgotten to only some domains means that it can be easily circumvented, "applying variable rights to individuals depending on the internet user who queries the search engine and not on the data subject".

Writing on the Google Europe blog in July, Peter Fleischer, the company’s Global Privacy Counsel described the order as “a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web”.  He went to say that "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…If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place."

CNIL say that Google must now comply with the formal notice, "(o)therwise, the President of the CNIL may designate a Rapporteur who may refer to the CNIL’s sanctions committee with a view of obtaining a ruling on this matter." According to The Guardian,  initial sanctions include the possibility of a fine of around €300,000.

However, under incoming European law the fine could increase to between 2% and 5% of Google’s global operating costs. Given the high stakes, on both sides, it looks as though an extended legal battle is on the cards.