France seeks to extend Google 'right to be forgotten'

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Image caption Google said the right to be forgotten ruling focused on services directed at Europeans

Google has 15 days to comply with a request from France's data watchdog to extend the "right to be forgotten" to all its search engines.

Last year a European Court of Justice ruling let people ask Google to delist some information about them.

However, the data deleting system only strips information from searches done via Google's European sites.

French data regulator CNIL said Google could face sanctions if it did not comply within the time limit.

In response, Google said in a statement: "We've been working hard to strike the right balance in implementing the European Court's ruling, co-operating closely with data protection authorities.

"The ruling focused on services directed to European users, and that's the approach we are taking in complying with it."

The 2014 court ruling allowed Europeans to submit applications to Google to remove data from search results that they thought were out of date, irrelevant or inflammatory.

Google is believed to have processed more than one million requests to remove data since the ruling came into effect. Google reviews all requests and refuses those it judges have no merit.

The CNIL order to extend the process emerged because European citizens can complain if Google refuses a delisting request. CNIL said it had received "hundreds" of complaints and, in some cases, said Google should have complied.

The requests to Google to delist data in these upheld complaints applied to all search indexes, not just those for member states, said CNIL. Only a small percentage of searches in Europe are believed to be carried out on rather than via country-specific sites.

It was Google's refusal to honour this broader request that prompted the CNIL order.

If Google did not comply, CNIL said, it would start compiling a report about Google's refusal that would be used to decide if the search giant should be sanctioned.

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