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France rejects Google's tech solution and fines it 100,000 Euros for not applying right to be forgotten globally

Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL), France's data protection authority, imposed a fine of 100,000 Euros on Google for not removing links to articles across all Google websites for successful right to be forgotten requests.  As a compromise position, Google said it would apply removals to all Google sites if the user of Google was located in an EU country.  CNIL, however, rejected Google's approach on the ground that a person's right to privacy cannot depend on the "geographic origin of those viewing the search results.  Only delisting on all of the search engine's extensions, regardless of the extension used or the geographic origin of the person performing the search, can effectively uphold this right."

Google disagreed with CNIL's decision and plans on appealing it to French courts.  Al Verney, Google's spokesman, said, "As a matter of principle, we disagree with the CNIL’s assertion that it has the authority to control the content that people can access outside France, and we plan to appeal their ruling."

India rejects Mark Zuckerberg's Free Basics in India

Mark Zuckerberg's "Free Basics" platform under Internet.org suffered a huge defeat in India.   The platform provides free Internet connection to under-served areas with little or no Internet connection, but the access to the Internet is limited to certain "basic" ad-free apps, including Facebook. On February 8, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India issued "Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations”—which bans differential pricing arrangements for internet access, including the practice is known as "zero rating" by which usage of certain preferred apps does not count toward paid data usage.

TRAI explained: "In India, given that a majority of the population are yet to be connected to the internet, allowing service providers to define the nature of access would be equivalent of letting TSPs shape the users' internet experience. This can prove to be risky in the medium to long term as the knowledge and outlook of those users would be shaped only by the information made availablethrough those select offerings. Further, to the extent that affordability of access is noted to be a cause for exclusion, it is not clear as to how the same users will be in a position to migrate to the open internet if they do not have the resources to do so in the first place."

Google Concedes to French Authorities--Will Apply RTBF Removals to Google.com in EU

Reuters is reporting that Google is apparently acquiescing to the demands of the French data protection authorities for Google to remove links on meritiorious right to be forgotten requests on all of Google's sites, including Google.com if accessed by a person in the EU.  Reuters says: "To address the concerns of European authorities, the Internet giant will soon start polishing search results across all its websites when someone conducts a search from the country where the removal request originated, a person close to the company said." 

If this report is accurate, it marks a dramatic change in position by Google that is more protective of the right to be forgotten.   It is not clear if Google will also be foregoing an appeal of the French authorities' decision.  

Mark Zuckerberg appeals to India before key decision on Internet.org platform, amid protests of net neutrality violation

Ahead of a key decision by India's telecommunications regulatory body, Mark Zuckerberg wrote a blog post in the Times of India to defend his nonprofit Internet.org, which provides free (but limited) Internet access to under-served areas.  The service is called "Free Basics," which enables users to access the Internet but only for a limited number of apps, such as weather, Wikipedia, and, yes, Facebook. Other app developers can apply to Internet.org to be included in Free Basics.   

Russia's new "right to be forgotten" law goes into effect

On Jan. 1, 2016, Russia's new "right to be forgotten" (RTBF) law went into effect.  The law is similar to the EU right to be forgotten, which requires search engines to remove links to web postings from searches of a person's name if the postings are old, false, or no longer relevant.  Russia's law, however, does not allow removals of criminal convictions even if the terms of prison or punishment have been served. By contrast, the EU allows removals of links based on criminal convictions if, e.g., the country recognizes the expungement of the criminal record upon completion of the punishment.  Russia's law is also different from the EU law in that Russia's law specifically sets a time period of 3 to 10 days for the search engine to respond to a RTBF request made by a person.

Russia's new Right to Be Forgotten law goes into effect in 2016

On Jan. 1, 2016, Russia's new "right to be forgotten" (RTBF) law went into effect.  The law is similar to the EU right to be forgotten, which requires search engines to remove links to web postings from searches of a person's name if the postings are old, false, or no longer relevant.  Russia's law, however, does not allow removals of criminal convictions even if the terms of prison or punishment have been served. By contrast, the EU allows removals of links based on criminal convictions if, e.g., the country recognizes the expungement of the criminal record upon completion of the punishment.  Russia's law is also different from the EU law in that Russia's law specifically sets a time period of 3 to 10 days for the search engine to respond to a RTBF request made by a person.

Colombian Supreme Court recognizes right to be forgotten

On Aug. 31, 2015, the Colombian Supreme Court issued an important decision that recognizes a right to be forgotten for criminal defendants who have completed their sentences. Search engines are obligated to remove information related to the crime from searches of the person's name if the person has completed the punishment rendered.  (More here.)

Google Seeks Return to China as China Increases Its Censorship

Google is reportedly in negotiation with the Chinese authorities to re-enter the Chinese market after Google's withdrawal 5 years ago due to China's censorship of content, including Google search results. Google hopes to launch an app store for Android-based smartphones and tablets. The news comes as China's government continues to crackdown on the use of VPN services, which enable people in China to attempt to evade the Great Firewall of China, which blocks people's access to censored sites. VPN services were disabled or experience outages in China at the end of August.  

India's government blocks 857 websites for pornography and other reasons

India's Department of Telecommunications reportedly issued a secret order on July 31, 2015 that orders ISPs in India to disable access to 857 websites.  Pursuant to Section 7913(b) of the Information Technology Act, the government has the authority to censor content for "morality" and "decency."  Some of the 857 websites reportedly include pornography, but other sites include College Humor and other non-pornographic sites.  India has a history of censoring the Internet.  [More from IBN live

Google refuses to comply with France CNIL's order to extend removal for RTBF to all Google sites globally

Peter Fleischer, Google's Global Privacy Counselor, wrote on the Google Policy Blog its reason for refusing to comply with France's data protection authority's (CNIL order to extend the removal of links for successful right to be forgotten requests to all of Google, and not just the European sites.

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