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“The “Right to Be Forgotten” Proves Ironic for Google, But Not Expensive”

Safe & Sound By Heather L. Buchta and Helen M. Schweitz

The French administrative body known as the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) (France’s Data Protection Authority) exercised its powers recently when it fined Google €100,000 on March 24th for, in CNIL’s words, “fail[ing] to comply with the obligation to respect the rights of individuals to erase data and to object.” This right has also been referred to as “de-listing rights” and the “right to forget” and holds that Internet users have the right to ask controllers of their data to erase such data, especially if the data is incomplete or inaccurate. Google took steps after the EU’s 2014 ruling establishing the right to comply with respect to the EU versions its site, but did not do so with respect to its U.S. site – and clearly didn’t just “forget” to do so. Pardon the pun.

In response, CNIL formally ordered Google in May of last year to de-list certain web pages in response to individuals’ search removal requests. CNIL has thus far been dissatisfied with Google’s compromises with respect to the 2015 order, leading to the recent fine. The fine itself would appear to be inconsequential to a company of Google’s size. Nonetheless, we can see the scope and extent of the EU right to be forgotten continuing to be debated and fought as it applies to U.S. companies and websites. See CNIL’s published opinion on this matter here. And there will certainly be more to follow…

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