Google vs France
In the red corner, the latte sipping hippies from California! In the blue (and white and red) corner, the rude cheese eaters from Paris!
Now the obvious joke is out of the way, what's this storm all about? Google's run afoul of Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés or Commission on Information Technology and Liberties (CNIL). The CNIL has ruled that the 'right to be forgotten' ruling issued by the European Court of Justice (requiring Google to comply with requests for websites to be delisted by their search engine) must extend worldwide. Google disagrees. Without getting into the details of the legal ruling (I'll leave that to an expert) let's take a light-hearted look.
We have over 200,000 requests for delisting websites pending, with 66,900 in France alone. This represents a substantial amount of work for us to carry out. Imagine for a moment that you're using webmaster tools and you had to delist 220,820 websites, a number that's constantly increasing, and liable to escalate following this ruling.
This represents an attempt to apply an EU law/ruling worldwide. The CNIL doesn't regulate the world, and the European Court of Justice is just that: European. European law is not world law, and Google is a US company protected, as all are in the US, by the First Amendment.
The financial penalties could be onerous, starting at 6 figures, and potentially rising to 2 - 5% of our operating costs when forthcoming laws come on to the statute books.
Google is a major worldwide corporation worth hundreds of billions. Are you really saying that you don't have the resources? Maybe you could use some of the money you saved from years of tax avoidance.
This isn't an attempt to apply EU law or rulings worldwide, it's simply ridiculous for websites to be delisted and inaccessible via Google.fr but easy to find via Google.com, especially as both of those sites are available in the same countries. Since you're operating in Europe, you have to comply with European law, and the First Amendment has no application outside of the US.
You have more money than God (who doesn't exist because Voltaire said so).
Double Count out
I'm not the referee, but personally I'd be surprised if Google didn't find fines coming its way. Maybe it would have shrugged off a 6 digit fine, but future fines based upon operating costs are a different matter. The whole concept of making as much information from around the world as discoverable as possible (what a search engine is all about) is at odds with privacy laws some countries have. Yes, this is partly a cultural clash, but also a clear revelation that law is out of step with advancements in technology. This needs to be appreciated and addressed more.
To finish as I started, on an old, terrible joke, if anyone could be said to be winning this battle it's lawyers.
What do you think is going to happen? Will anyone win this battle? Tell me in the comments.