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France Asks Google to Implement RTBF on All its Domains

Zacks Equity Research

Search giant  Google Inc. GOOGL is facing some resistance over the "right to be forgotten (RTBF)", as France's data protection regulator rebuffed the search giant’s appeal to limit the landmark new privacy rule to just European sites.

In June, France’s Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, or CNIL ordered Google to implement the right to be forgotten in all search results, after getting a number of complaints from individuals. CNIL said that companies operating in Europe are bound to abide by the existing laws and that Google needs to apply the right to be forgotten on “all domain names” of the search engine including Google.com, rather than just the local ones such as Google.fr.

However, Google refused to comply and appealed against the order in July, arguing that CNIL was not competent "to control" information accessed worldwide. CNIL however rejected the plea.

Now, if Google refuses to comply, it may have to face sanctions levied by the regulator. CNIL says if Google fails to remove links from search results worldwide, then the company is not completely conforming to the 2014 ruling by Europe’s highest court. The search giant could face a penalty starting from around €300,000 ($336,000) and could rise to 2%-5% of Google’s global operating costs. But Google can then go to the Conseil d’Etat, the Supreme Court for administrative justice in France to appeal against the decision and fine.

Last year, the European Court of Justice said that citizens have the right to ask Google to remove personal data links, “that are inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant, excessive, and not in the public interest” from its search engine.

As per the European court, search companies are answerable for personal information that is displayed on web pages. The court ruled that individuals can appeal to the search engines to take down irrelevant links related to them such as news reports, court cases and other legal pages.

Moreover, if the information is used to breach an individual’s right to privacy, then the company might be subjected to penalties. The rule is applicable for other search engines like Microsoft’s MSFT Bing and Yahoo YHOO as well.

Google asserts that it is trying to conform to the European court’s controversial decision and has granted nearly 40% of more than 300,000 removal requests so far.

But Google has taken down the results only from its search engines with a European domain, such as google.co.uk or google.fr. The links still show on non-European domains such as Google.com. Google didn't immediately comment.

Google has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Another technology stock worth considering is Amazon.com AMZN, sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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