Google France Faces €1,000 Daily Fine Unless Links Are Removed From Global Index
Europe’s Right to be Forgotten ruling continues to create new issues. While the ruling protects the online privacy of European citizens, it could be abused by powerful businessmen and politicians who want links to web pages that could damage their reputations removed from Google’s search results.
Another major issue has emerged as Google’s French subsidiary has been ordered to pay daily fines of €1,000 “unless links to a defamatory article are removed from the parent company’s entire global network,” states a report by The Guardian. Moreover, European politicians have suggested that the said links should also be removed from the search engine’s global index. This was proposed because even if links are removed from the French index, they still appear in other versions of Google worldwide.
One of those who filed the latest complaint against Google in France is Dan Shefet, a Paris-based Danish lawyer. He brought the case to the French court because his international law firm had been the subject of a “defamation campaign” established through blogs and sites by an untraceable individual.
According to the report, Shefet first sued Google in August 2013, obtaining a court order “enjoining both Google France and Google Inc. to cease referencing the URLs in question.” While Google France adhered to the order, Google Inc. chose not to comply. Shefet said the parent company only removed links from sites with the “.fr” suffix, which didn’t solve the real problem.
“Until now a subsidiary could not be legally forced under the threat of daily penalties to deliver a result which was beyond its control. The complainant would therefore have to obtain judgment against Google in the U.S. because only Google Inc. controls the search engine worldwide,” Shefet added.
Google is currently being flooded with thousands of link removal requests, many of which are denied. According to the latest statistics from Google’s Transparency Report, Google has evaluated 602,479 URLs and has received a total of 174,226 requests. Of these requests, only 41.5% have been removed.
Likewise, a French newspaper—Le Croix—revealed that Google has received 135,000 link removal requests relating to 470,000 individual pages since the Paris ruling. The company has denied 60% of these requests, which were mostly for professional purposes.
Based on The Guardian’s report, a Google spokesperson stated:
More broadly, the right to be forgotten raises some difficult issues and so we’re seeking advice – both from data protection authorities and via our Advisory Council – on the principles we should apply when making these difficult decisions.
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