Under pressure from European regulators, Google is expanding its right to be forgotten policy. Under EU law, European citizens can request that search engines remove links from their search results if the linked sites contain information about the person that is inaccurate or out of date.
Initially, Google agreed to comply with the law, to a point. Google did agree to remove links from its search results, but it would only apply to sites with a European domain name, such as google.fr or google.de. On google.com, and other non-European domains, the links would not be removed. While Google argued that this policy was sufficient, because European law only applies in Europe, many European regulators disagreed, citing the ease at which other domains can be accessed within Europe. Regulators demanded that Google remove links from searches on all domains in order to comply with the law.
Google has finally decided to alter its policy, after French regulators threatened to take action. Under the new policy, Google will geolocate users based on their IP address, and filter their search results accordingly. If someone requests the removal of a link under the right to be forgotten, it will be removed from all searches coming from a European IP address, no matter what domain is being used in the search.
It is unclear if this new policy will be sufficient to satisfy European regulators. When questioned by the Wall Street Journal, the French data protection agency would not state whether the new policy was acceptable, they would only state, “an inquiry is currently under way into the new elements Google has provided.” Google’s IP-based system for determining a user’s location is easily fooled by the use of proxies, and for that reason regulators might decide that this measure isn’t good enough. On the other hand, they might decide that most users of the search engine won’t bother to use proxies, and the policy is sufficient.
Do you think this new policy is sufficient to comply with EU law? Leave your comments below.