Surely there were a few corks being popped over in Europe last year when the European Court of Justice ruled its people had a right to be forgotten online. But now Google is refusing a French order to apply that ruling globally, and the Champagne of victory has gone flat.
Under the ruling, Europeans can petition search engines like Google and Bing to delete anything that shows up under their name they believe to be outdated, irrelevant, or inflammatory.
Google agreed, but so far has only edited search results for European sites like Germany’s Google.de or France’s Google.fr. The company argues that 95 percent of all searches in Europe are done using local versions of the site, but it does feel like it defeats the purpose of the court order if all someone has to do is tweak the URL to find those pictures from your summer abroad that creepy guy from the youth hostel still has on his Xanga page.
Reuters reports Google could be hit with “small fines” if it persists, but that hardly sounds threatening. It’s one more twist in the lost Rod Serling screenplay of corporations feuding with governments over how much we all live in public.