18 NGOs File intervention to Join Google’s Appeal Against Decision on “Right to be Forgotten”


Eighteen non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from around the world, including Media Rights Agenda (MRA) have filed a motion to join google’s appeal to France’s highest court, the Council of State (Conseil d’État) against the decision of La Commission Nationale Informatique et Libertés, (CNIL) the French National Commission for Data Protection and Liberties, made in 2014, which ordered Google to remove 21 links from the results of an internet search on the name of a French citizen who claimed a “right to be forgotten.”

Google initially removed the links from its French search site (www.google.fr) and other European search sites (such as www.google.ie), but CNIL demanded that it go further by removing it from other domains. Google thereafter blocked the links from results returned to European users, even when using Google’s non-European sites, including www.google.com


CNIL however demanded that when it orders content to be “forgotten” from search results, this decision must be given effect worldwide, meaning that the results must be made unavailable to all users internationally, regardless of where they are accessing internet search engines. CNIL also imposed a huge fine of €100,000 on Google.

The 18 International NGOs filed a joint voluntary intervention, through separate submission, pursuant to the provisions of Article R. 632-1 of the French Code of Administrative Justice.

The Google appeal aims at supporting its application for the annulment of decision no. 2016-054 of March 10, 2016 in which the CNIL ruled that the delisting process implemented by Google in order to comply with the principles arising from the European Court of Justice’s ruling in Google Spain SL et Google Inc. c. AEPD and Mario Costeja González on May 13, 2014 was insufficient.

The intervention has been admitted by France’s highest court, the Council of State (Conseil d’État).

The protections, rights, and freedoms on which the interveners rely are challenged by the March 10, 2016 order of the CNIL. The CNIL’s decision provides that the delisting of public information available on the internet must be effective, “even if it conflicts with foreign rights”.

These interveners, are specialists in the defence of human rights, the protection of online freedom of expression, and in increasing access to information technology around the world. They have through their submission expressed their grave concerns about CNIL’s approach and its implications for human rights worldwide stating that the internet has reduced barriers to communication seeing the Internet as an enabler of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression that needs to be protected for everyone.

The interveners aim to strengthen free expression online and to oppose any unnecessary censorship by government and non-state actors on the internet.  Their goal is to help make the internet safer and more accessible.