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Google's ‘right to be forgotten' to cover searches across all Google domains

Back in 2014, Google complied with an order issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union to delist search results pertaining to individuals deemed irrelevant, inadequate or excessive, and not in the public interest. Bing followed suit and implemented the change as well.

The so-called “right to be forgotten” is intended to provide an enhanced level of personal privacy, obscuring past information an individual feels is embarrassing or no longer true.

The current procedure requires that the requesting individual submit the URL to Google for delisting. The content in the URL is then evaluated by Google as to whether it meets the court’s criteria. If it does, then Google will delist the URL when someone searches for the individual’s name on all European-domain versions of Google, such as Google.de, .co.uk, .fr, etc.

An easy work-around has been for Europeans to conduct the search using a non-European version of Google, such as the firm's U.S. site - Google.com - where the delisting rules are not enforced.

In a shift, Google says they are now “changing our approach as a result of specific discussions that we’ve had with EU data protection regulators in recent months.”

Next week, Google will implement a policy change that will constrain the ability of European users to work around the rules. Google will use geolocation methods, such as IP addresses, to determine where the search user is located. If he or she is located in the same country as the person requesting the delisting, the URL will be hidden, even if the user searches on a non-European domain such as Google.com or Google.jp.

For example, if the requesting individual resides in Germany, then German users will not see the delisted URL. European users outside of Germany—in the UK for instance—will still be able to utilize the work-around to see the results, provided they navigate to Google.com or any non-European Google site.

In a blog post, Google detailed the changes and acknowledged disagreements with regulators over the last two years, but vowed to work collaboratively to achieve the "right balance." Others have disagreed as well, including free speech advocates. The BBC opposes the measure because it limits access to important news if someone mentioned in the article, or only writes a comment under the article, makes a request to be forgotten.

Source: Google Europe Blog

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