It definitely does not seem that way at first glance, but Google is actually protecting the Web by denying France the global “right to be forgotten”.
The right to be forgotten refers to a person’s or company’s ability to have something something that was posted on the internet that includes their name be taken out of Google’s search results. Google agreed to grant this request to the European Union when the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued an official ruling on the matter.
This implied that Google would have to meet this request on all the local versions of its search engine, such as Google.co.uk or Google.dk, and so Google agreed. In this past year, the media giant has received an enormous amount of such requests and it seems that it has done its best to comply and remove all the indicated content from the results rendered by these local search engines.
Then, France decided that this was not enough, since limiting this “right to be forgotten” to Google.fr does not exactly allow the content to be forgotten, as it is still available on the international version of the search engine, Google.com.
France issued a formal request demanding that Google comply with their wish for a complete right to be forgotten, but a reaction from the company failed to make it due time. Eventually Google pointed out that while this global version of the right might seem like a beneficial measure, it could actually lead to intense conflict that would clearly not be in the best interest of the users.
A global right to be forgotten would create a precedent that would prove to be extremely dangerous later on because it could either permit any given country in the Google World Wide Web empire to have specific requests of their own, regardless of what they imply,or it could cause a scandal or great proportions because France would essentially be “more equal” than other countries, whose requests would be denied. This is why it is crucial that they international version of Google remains untouched.
As Google officials have put it masterfully, “the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place” if France were to have its global right to be forgotten.
This is the main reason why Google has asked France to withdraw its formal request. Hopefully the Frenchmen’s appreciation for equality will resurface and they will actually do so, because the Internet needs to remain a space where people can express themselves freely.
Image Source: imediaethics.org