Google to Microsoft face rise in removal calls

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Paris - France’s privacy watchdog said more citizens are asking for help getting their personal information removed from search engines such as those run by Google and Microsoft, less than a week after the European Union’s top court ruled on a “right to be forgotten” online.

France’s CNIL and Europe’s other privacy watchdogs will discuss in a June meeting how they can enforce the ruling, President Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin said today in a conference.

The EU’s top court last week said citizens may ask search-engine owners to remove information and request that a court or data- protection authority step in if a company doesn’t comply.

“We’ve already received complaints citing the court decision,” Falque-Pierrotin said.

“The idea that companies like Google are too powerful to respect European rules -- we’ve proven that idea wrong. It’s prompting citizen reactions.”

While it’s too early to say how the court ruling will be enforced, more users may ask CNIL to intervene, Falque-Pierrotin said.

Complaints relating to the “right to be forgotten” made up about a third of the requests received last year, she said.

CNIL dealt with 5,640 complaints and 92,351 broader requests last year, according to its annual report.

CNIL has asked the French government to increase the maximum amount it can fine for privacy violations, which currently run from 150,000 euros ($206,000) to 300,000 euros for repeated offenses, Falque-Pierrotin said.

In the past year, Google has faced privacy problems in Germany and Italy. France’s CNIL has been among the region’s more vocal authorities in getting international Internet players to respect local and European privacy laws.

 

Lead Role

 

The French watchdog took the lead role for EU authorities debating measures directed at companies that violate privacy laws.

It fined Google 150,000 euros in January for failing to give people enough details about how and why it uses their personal data.

Privacy regulators want to play a bigger role beyond punitive intervention, she said.

CNIL and other European regulators are in talks with Google on a possible accord over its privacy policy, with details to be announced “before summer,” she said. - Bloomberg News


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