google-franceGoogle has been complying with the European Union’s inane “right to be forgotten” legislation and court decisions, removing offending information from its search engines that cover the affected territories. However, there’s just one little problem: the Internet is global. All someone in Europe has to do to find those results is use, or some other non-European version of Google. As a result, France’s data protection authority, CNIL, has informed Google that it must remove any European right-to-be-forgotten results worldwide, not just within Europe.

CNIL’s president also claimed that “this decision does not show any willingness on the part of the CNIL to apply French law extraterritorially. It simply requests full observance of European legislation by non European players offering their services in Europe.”

So, in other words, we don’t want to apply French law extraterritorially. We just want to apply French law extraterritorially.

As Google pointed out on its blog in July, allowing the laws of one country to affect what is legal to put on the Internet in the rest of the world is a slippery slope that leads to a lowest-common-denominator Internet where anything illegal anywhere must be removed everywhere.

Google will continue to appeal the decision, but France might choose to levy fines if Google should decline to censor its results outside of Europe. What will Google do if it can’t persuade higher French authorities to its point of view? In 2011, Google left China over censorship issues. Might it do the same for France?


  1. For those who wonder, here’s the definition of ‘right to be forgotten’ from the link.

    The right to be forgotten is a concept discussed and put into practice in the European Union (EU) and Argentina since 2006. The issue has arisen from desires of individuals to “determine the development of their life in an autonomous way, without being perpetually or periodically stigmatized as a consequence of a specific action performed in the past.”

    Notice something? Both the two ‘hot spots’ for this idea involve countries where politicians and their kin had or have much in their past they’d like to hide. In Europe outside the UK, it was cooperation with Nazi Germany. In Argentina it was supporting the brutal Juan Peron dictatorship.

    There’s nothing new about that. As a Washington Post article pointed out in 2005, European opposition to capital punishment began in Germany as a scheme to protect Nazi mass killers.

    “But the actual history of the German death penalty ban casts this claim in a different light. Article 102 was in fact the brainchild of a right-wing politician who sympathized with convicted Nazi war criminals — and sought to prevent their execution by British and American occupation authorities. Far from intending to repudiate the barbarism of Hitler, the author of Article 102 wanted to make a statement about the supposed excesses of Allied victors’ justice.”

    Quite frankly, someone who cooperated with the Nazi or Peron dictatorships should be “perpetually or periodically stigmatized” for the rest of their lives. And if that cooperation was extensive, departing this life dangling from the end of a rope is a good idea. Punishment should fit the nature of the crimes. Even though being responsible for the deaths of thousands cannot be properly punished, we should at least go as far as we can.

    Keep in mind the value of doing that. Even those who have no sense of decency, ethics or honor may be deterred from evil by the fact that they might hang for it (capital punishment) or discover that they are no longer able to “determine the development of their life in an autonomous way” (“right to be forgotten”). Stopping evil is that important.


    Quite frankly, both the German and the general European response to the horrors of the Holocaust have been disgusting. Doctors involved in the euthanasia program, killing disabled people including children, spent mere days in prison for each person they killed and then returned to their lucrative practices. Thousands in Germany and across Europe played a major role in the genocide, supervising the round ups and keeping the trains to the death camps running on time. Yet pitifully few of those important people were punished in any way fitting with their crimes.

    And what do we have now, some seventy years later? What can only be called show trials targeting elderly people who played insignificant roles in the killing machine. Here’s an illustration:


    Some want Europe to be the model for the U.S. in the twenty-first century. I see little in the behavior of the European cultural and political elite in the twentieth century that suggests they’re worth following. Nor does all the blame on Hitler and Nazism. Germany murdered thousands of innocent civilians in occupied Belgium during World War I.

    During that century, Europe, in a blend of malice and stupidity, plunged the world into two of the bloodiest wars in human history, wars they had to be rescued from by the U.S. There could have very well been a third world war with a far bloodier result had not the U.S. provided the resolve and military might that Europeans seem unwilling to commit.


    All that to say that I’m not impressed with France or any other European country wants to claim a so-called right to conceal one’s terrible past. Europe still hasn’t come to terms with its own past. It’s all to eager to cover it up.

    And to comment on the issue at hand, were I Google, I’d tell France and the entire EU to get lost. Someone who doesn’t want to suffer the consequences of their past deeds should not do them in the first place. What you do, you’re responsible for. If you’ve changed, demonstrate that by your life not by engaging in a coverup.

    And yes, the article is right. The alleged right to a global rather than just a national coverup is the slippery slope of all slippery slopes. Even George Orwell in 1984 did not envision one this extensive. The reach of his propaganda ministry didn’t extend to the entire world.

    –Michael W. Perry, editor of Chesterton on War and Peace: Battling the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II

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