Does the EU’s right to be forgotten extend to the whole world? The French data protection authority, CNIL, says yes and wants search engines to delist search results which contain information that violates the European Union’s right to be forgotten – not just for French users, not just for European users, but for all users everywhere. Google is prepared to remove offending search results for European users, but balks at removing material globally just because European courts find that it violates European privacy rules.
Just as everyone was headed out of Washington for the Memorial Day weekend, CNBC did a report on Google’s Two Years of Forgetting Europeans. It was a useful summary of the material Google publishes in its transparency report on European privacy requests for search removals. It noted such interesting facts as that Google has removed 43% of the URLs they have reviewed and processed and that Facebook was the most frequently removed URL.
But the report strangely missed a major legal development that threatens a stable international understanding about the limits of domestic law in age of global communications networks.
This stable understanding is that national governments have control over the Internet within their own borders. They have right and the obligation to make the rules of the road for Internet conduct occurring within their own borders. But they don’t have the right to extend their local laws to Internet conduct within the jurisdiction of other cou ...