While the "right to be forgotten" has been in effect in Europe for a while now, France's data-protection regulator has ordered Google to expand the concept worldwide.
The French Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés, or CNIL, said on Friday that it had issued a formal order to Google by process requests for the "right to be forgotten" across all domain names. That includes the entire google.com — not just country-specific domains like google.fr and google.de.
"In accordance with the (ECJ) judgment, the CNIL considers that in order to be effective, delisting must be carried out on all extensions of the search engine and that the service provided by Google search constitutes a single processing," said the CNIL in a statement.
It's important to note that this order does not mean that Google must offer the right to be forgotten to everyone in the world. Rather, once someone in Europe makes a request to exercise the "right to be forgotten," data related to that person will be removed from Google's index all over the world — not just in Europe.
For its part, Google has been very clear that it thinks the removal of data should only apply within Europe, citing free speech as being infringed upon by European courts.
Google also argues that ordering it to remove results globally would give one country the ability to create international rules for the Internet.
"We've been working hard to strike the right balance in implementing the European Court's ruling," said a Google spokesperson. "The ruling focused on services directed to European users, and that is the approach we are taking in complying with it."
The CNIL has given Google two weeks to comply with the order. If the company does not comply in that time, it will be slapped with a $168,000 fine. While this is a small amount compared with the amount of money Google makes, the company will able to challenge the decision in court if so inclined.
Google has so far removed around 1 million links related to the "right to be forgotten" rule, which states that European citizens have the right to have data on them removed from Google's index. While this doesn't mean that material like articles and images will be deleted, it does mean this content will be much harder to find, with users unable to do so through Google.
Google has been having a rough time in Europe. Last year, it had to close Google News in Spain after it was ruled that the company would have to pay publishers a fee for using snippets of news stories in Google News listings.