French data protection regulator (CNIL) said on Friday that Google must delete global search results when it agrees to do so, rather than removing them just from the European versions of its website.
“In accordance with the [European court] judgment, the CNIL considers that in order to be effective, de-listing must be carried out on all extensions of the search engine and that the service provided by Google search constitutes a single processing,” the CNIL regulator said in a statement.
If Google doesn’t comply within 15 days, it can face a process leading to sanctions, the CNIL said.
Last year, the European Court of Justice decreed that Europeans may appeal to search engines to delete search results coming up under their names which are out of date, irrelevant or inflammatory. This has been dubbed “the right to be forgotten.”
Google, Bing and Yahoo have been complying the requests when they meet certain criteria.
However, Google interprets the court ruling as applying only to its European sites, such as Google.fr and Google.de.
“The ruling focused on services directed to European users, and that's the approach we are taking in complying with it,” a Google spokesman said.
But EU regulators, legal experts and former German justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger argues that the right to be forgotten must be global.
“Since EU residents are able to research globally, the EU is authorised to decide that the search engine has to delete all links globally,” she advised Google in February.