One, of course, recalls the May 13, 2014 decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on the “right to be forgotten”. As a result, the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL – Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés) received numerous complaints about Google not being willing to carry out the delisting. Of the 21 groundless refusals pointed out by the CNIL, Google finally agreed to carry it out for 9 of them.
The problem here is not so much about whether Google does or does not comply with its delisting obligation, but more about delistings currently being effective only on Google search engines with a European extension (such as .co.uk, .fr). Google’s main argument here is that European users do not use “google.com” that much, but rather the Google search engine extension for their own country.
CNIL then decided to put Google on notice to proceed with the delisting of all the requested links on specified Google search engine extensions, and within a period of fifteen days. This is necessary for the CJEU decision to be applied accordingly.
It was specified that this notice should not be regarded as a sanction, but as a warning. If Google complies, the proceeding will stop; if not, the CNIL will appoint a rapporteur to sanction it.
The potential sanctions are stated in articles 45 to 49 of the Act of January 6, 1978:
- They “shall be proportional to the severity of the breaches committed and to the profits derived from said breach”:
- If it is the first breach, the fine may not exceed 150.000 euros;
- If there is a second breach, within five years, the fine may not exceed 300.000 euros.
- “The Restricted Committee may make public the sanctions issued. It may also order their publication in such journals, newspapers or other media […]. The Chair of the Commission may instruct the Bureau (Executive Committee) to make public the formal order to comply […]. Once [it] has declared a procedure closed […], said closing shall be published under the same conditions as the formal order to comply”.
The CNIL also added that several articles from the French Penal Code might lead to a combined 1.500.000 euros fine.
The notice is dated from May 21, 2015 and was published on June 8 in an effort to inform every user, and other search engines, about the proceeding, and particularly to pressure Google to comply (meaning that Google apparently did not respond to the CNIL’s formal order).
Here is the CNIL’s notice to Google (French Only).