EU Court Adviser Says Google Shouldn't Have To Enforce A French RTBF Request Anywhere But In Europe

The "Right to Be Forgotten" -- a European construct that allows people to erase their internet history at the drop of a takedown request -- should only apply in countries affected by the law. That would seem to be obvious but, so far, it hasn't played out that way. There has been insistence by a few judges and governments that delisting orders should cover anywhere Google's search engine can be used, rather than just in the originating country.

The abusable system has led to questionable delisting requests, which almost always results in the person making the dubious request generating even more URLs to target with the next round of takedowns. That's the nature of the internet, and that's why some judges think content delisted in one country should be made unavailable everywhere in the world.

For a while, it appeared the EU was inclined to agree with French regulators who believed they should be able to control the distribution of content worldwide from an office in Paris. Fortunately, it doesn't appear these regulators will get to control the internet. Reuters reports the EU court is probably going to end up siding with Google in this dispute.

Google can limit the “right to be forgotten” to internet searches made in the European Union, an adviser to the bloc’s top court said on Thursday, backing an appeal by the U.S. search giant against a French fine.

Now, this isn't guaranteed to happen. The Reuters report notes the EU Court normally follows the advice of its legal advisers, but not always. The French government doesn't appear willing to back down, despite this recommendation.

France’s CNIL data protection authority said it noted the opinion and restated its view that the right to privacy should apply regardless of the geographical origin of the person doing an internet search.

This "right" should be watched closely and exercised cautiously. Its short history shows this hasn't been the case. Google is compliant with most requests it receives, but there are still a number of bad faith efforts making their way through the system. Just like DMCA notices, some RTBF requests target legitimate and newsworthy content solely for the purpose of making embarrassing or inconvenient facts vanish from the web. Allowing a European country to control the world's search results will do little more than encourage further abuse.

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