FRANCE: The CNIL Fines Google €100,000 Over Right To Be Forgotten

The French data protection authority (the “CNIL”) will not settle for a compromise, or so says its recent decision to fine Google Inc. €100,000 for failing to properly implement the so-called “right to be forgotten”.

By Carol Umhoefer ( and Caroline Chancé (

Earlier this month, Google announced it was adapting its approach to the right to be forgotten following discussions between the Mountain View, California firm and EU data protection authorities, in particular the CNIL, which in May 2015 issued a cease and desist order against Google Inc. (see previous post here) and rejected its appeal in September 2015 (see previous post here).

Despite reports that some EU data protection authorities saw this as a potentially acceptable solution, on March 10, 2016, the French regulator ordered Google Inc. to pay a €100,000 fine for violation of individuals’ right to object to the processing of their personal data and the right to delete their personal data, in light of the landmark decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“ECJ”) in Costeja v. Google[1].

For the CNIL, in order to be compliant with French law, Google Inc. must delist links from all Google Search extensions globally, and unconditionally. Google Inc. argued that this extraterritorial reach of the right to be forgotten is likely to raise conflict of laws issues and impair other States’ sovereignty (see previous post here). In particular, Google expressed concerns that a global delisting would disproportionately undermine the freedom of expression and information. But the CNIL countered that the purpose of its decision is to ensure “effective and complete protection of data subjects“, as required by the ECJ.

A Google spokesman has already confirmed they will appeal the CNIL’s decision[2].

If the CNIL’s decision becomes definitive, Google will have to further adapt its approach to the right to be forgotten or face up to € 300,000 in additional administrative fines.

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[1] Case C-131/12, Google Spain and Google Inc. v. Agencia Espanola de Protección de Datos (AEPD) and Mario Costeja Gonzalez, May 13, 2014

[2]France fines Google over ‘right to be forgotten’“, Julia Fioretti, Reuters, March 24, 2016 (