The differences are not merely legal. Personal privacy is a deeply held cultural value in most of Europe. French regulators often ask newspapers and bloggers to delete or alter information when citizens express fear that unflattering references or photographs online might undermine job prospects or personal relationships.
Isabel Falque-Pierrotin, head of the French Data Protection Authority, said such requests shot up 42 percent last year. She favors a bill before the European Parliament to expand this “right to be forgotten” to include links on search engines — a move Google has resisted.
“Ultimately, responsibility for deleting content published online should lie with the person or entity who published it,” Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel, wrote in a blog post in February.
The French authority also has scrutinized the way iPhones report the geographic movements of the Apple devices’ users and how Web sites track users as they surf the Internet.