Google this week is expanding its ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ coverage to all of its domains, including Google.com.
The tech firm will use geolocation signals — which are similar to IP addresses — to prevent access to delisted URLs on all of its search domains when it is accessed from the country of the person who requested the de-listing. The change will also be applied retrospectively to all previous delistings.
“Let’s say we delist a URL as a result of a request from John Smith in the United Kingdom. Users in the U.K. would not see the URL in search results for queries containing [john smith] when searching on any Google Search domain, including google.com,”
Google global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote in a blog post. “Users outside of the U.K. could see the URL in search results when they search for [john smith] on any non-European Google Search domain.”
Fleischer said Google is changing its approach after having “specific discussions” with EU data protection regulators over the past few months.
“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,” Fleischer wrote.
“Since May 2014, we’ve worked hard to find the right balance as we implement the European Court’s ruling. Despite occasional disagreements, we’ve maintained a collaborative dialogue with data protection authorities throughout. We’re committed to continuing to work in this way.”
Europe’s top court ruled in May 2014 that people have the “right to be forgotten” online forcing Google to comply with requests from “ordinary people” to remove outdated links and irrelevant information from its search engine. The European Union Court of Justice, in its ruling, said search engines must either edit or erase online search results if they are found to violate a person’s privacy.
Google, in June 2015, posted an online form that Europeans can fill out to request deletion of online information, but EU privacy watchdogs have complained Google’s move was not enough to protect people’s privacy because the information remained available on the company’s U.S. domain.
Roland G. Cardoza