EU Wants ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ To Apply To Non-European Searches

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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EU say links removed from European search engines should also not be listed on international versions.

The European Union wants search engines to remove links they are required to de-list under the controversial ‘Right to be forgotten’ ruling from their international sites, not just those in the European market.

Currently the legislation only applies to European domains like ‘.co.uk’, not ‘.com’, ‘.net’ or any other international extension. This means links can still be accessed if users are not using the local version of Google, Bing or their preferred search engine.

The EU group tasked with creating guidelines for how such requests should be handled says that this additional measure is necessary to ensure that European Law cannot be circumvented and so that citizens of can be afforded the “effective and complete protection” of their personal data.

Right to be forogtten

Erase delete forget right to be forgotten key © Sarawut Aiemsinsuk Shutterstock“Limiting de-listing to EU domains on the grounds that users tend to access search engines via their national domains cannot be considered a sufficient means to satisfactorily guarantee the rights of data subjects according to the ruling,” said the EU Article 29 Working Party. “In practice, this means that in any case de-listing should also be effective on all relevant .com domains.”

The Group’s guidelines also contain a list of common criteria that data protection authorities will use when dealing with complaints that arise following a search engine’s refusal to de-list a link

“The list contains 13 main criteria and should be seen as a flexible working tool to help DPAs during the decision-making processes,” it added. “Criteria will be applied on a case by case basis and in accordance with the relevant national legislations.”

In May, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled that European citizens could apply for links to content to be removed from searches of their name. The court said search engines were ultimately responsible but when considering such requests, they should consider both the applicant’s privacy and whether the information in question is in the public interest.

Opponents have likened the removal to censorship while Google argued it does not control personal data but simply provides links to existing information freely available online.

Since May, Google has evaluated 602,479 URLs as part of 174,226 requests across Europe, 58.5 percent of which have been removed. In the UK it has assesses 81,413 URLS from 22,467 applications, removing 63.8 percent.

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