Google Adapts New Approach To European Right To Be Forgotten But There's A Catch
Google confirms earlier reports that it is going to adapt the approach to the European "right to be forgotten" in response to talks with regulators.
Starting next week, the company is going to wipe out a few search results from all of its Google Search domains if searches are carried out in the European Union.
In 2014, the European Union Court of Justice ordered that search engines should comply with the requests of Europeans to delist a few search results which come with irrelevant, inadequate, not in the public interest, out-of-date or excessive information. The request has since been popularly known as "the right to be forgotten" or more accurately, "the right to delist."
Google's present practice is that if a European requests for delisting a particular link through its webform, it checks out if it conforms to the criteria laid down by the EU court. Once the request meets those conditions, then the company is going to deindex that link from its European domains, such as google.fr, google.de and google.co.uk, but not on google.com.
"We're changing our approach as a result of specific discussions that we've had with EU data protection regulators in recent months," says Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel. "We believe that this additional layer of delisting enables us to provide the enhanced protections that European regulators ask us for, while also upholding the rights of people in other countries to access lawfully published information."
Beginning next week, Google will make use of geolocation signals, such as IP addresses, in limiting access to deindexed links across Google Search sites, which include google.com. The delisting, however, is applicable to the country of the person who made the request.
As an example, if a specific webpage is delisted in line with the request of a person residing in Germany, the URL won't be visible to people who live in the country on all Google Search domains. However, when a person is going overseas, even in countries within the European Union, then they are able to see the posted webpage, but on non-European Google Search sites.
In November, Google disclosed in its transparency report that it had received almost 350,000 requests to deindex 1.2 million links to web pages from its search engine results.
Requests came from Belgium, Hungary, United Kingdom, Poland, France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Netherlands, Austria and Latvia.
Google also revealed 10 sites which had been mostly affected by the removal of URLs from search results. The list included facebook.com and twitter.com.