As reported by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, a privacy agency of the French government has rejected an appeal by Google that the 'right to be forgotten' be limited to just European versions of the search engine.
By the ruling of the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés, the removal of requested search results by individuals must be effective over all of Google search domains, and not just, for example, Google.de for Germany and/or Google.fr in France. Limitations of the ruling to just Europe could be easily bypassed and, according to the regulator, would make the 'right to be forgotten' essentially ineffective.
Google argued that, basically, France was attempting to extend French law and regulation beyond its own borders and that, furthermore, this would allow authoritarian regimes to further control the flow of information. Both rationales were rejected by the regulator, which countered that just as any person with links to Europe can make 'right to be forgotten' requests, so can entities make a "full observance of European legislation by non-European players offering their services in Europe."
Google must now apply the regulator's decision globally or face fines although the amount, $340,000 for non-compliance, seems more like a joke or symbolic gesture than an actual threat.
According to the New York Times, more than 66,000 'right to be forgotten' requests have been make for more than 220,000 links online, with the largest number coming from France. (This is all from Google's transparency report on the issue.)
Google is on something of a losing streak in the legal battle over the right to be forgotten in Europe. As previously reported by Social Media Today, Google was ordered to remove links linking to stories about how Google was removing links to stories, which has not yet but probably will lead to Google having to remove links to those stories as well.
And the whole thing is a bit moot due to the fact that those media and news organizations that are having their results removed from Google search are notified of the removals, and are keeping running lists of effected stories, which are basically as easy to find as the original removed requests. (Remember, it isn't the actual news stories or police reports that are censored, just the links in Google search.)
This whole thing, to me, represents a rather stunningly luddite attitude on the part of France, not only in the inability to fathom how searching for things on the internet works (if you want to find something you're going to find it), but also an inability to grasp that we live in the 21st century, and that digital information is now both permanently and widely available. With its rulings, the French regulator is trying to hold back the ocean. No amount of regulation is going to make that possible.