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EU expands "right to be forgotten" to U.S. domains

So far results only scrubbed from European sites, but new regulations would make deletions global

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
November 26, 2014
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3aa9

The so-called "right to be forgotten" has generated a lot of controversy in Europe. So far, though, the ruling has only applied to European domains, leaving other territories, specifically in the United States, out of the quagmire. 

That could be changing very soon, though, as European privacy regulators agreed to a new set of regulations on Wednesday, in which the right would be extended to all websites and domains, including ".com," according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. 

The right to be forgotten went into effect earlier this year after the Court of Justice of the European Union found that users had the right to ask Google to remove their name from certain search results. So results have been scrubbed from sites like Google.fr or Google.co.uk, but not Google.com, which can also be accessed in Europe. That means that even if results are taken down, they can still be accessed.

In compliance with the ruling, Google created an online form that users can fill out to request the removal of links and received some 12,000 requests on the first day alone and a total of 174,000 people have requested removal of more than 600,000 search results in total. CEO Larry Page, however, said that a sizable chunk of those early requests were related to crime. Nearly one-third were related to a fraud or scam, one-fifth are related to a “serious crime,” and 12% are related to child pornography arrests.

On the other side, accusations of censorship have been thrown around by those who think the ruling goes too far.

For example, Google blocked a number of articles from the British newspaper The Guardian regarding a Scottish soccer referee named Dougie McDonald resigned after lying about his reasons for granting a penalty in a Celtic v Dundee United match, the backlash to which prompted his resignation.

The other stories included one about French office workers making art out of post-its, one about a solicitor who was accused of fraud and another was simply an index of stories by one of the newspaper's commentators. 

The Guardian accused Google of censorship, forcing the company to reverse the decision in July.

In addition to the expansion of the ruling, representatives also said that Google, as well as other search engines that have to comply, should "limit how they notify websites that their Web pages have been the subject of such removals." They said that there is “no legal basis” to notify those who have had their content removed on a “routine” basis.

To be clear, this expansion would not allow people living in the United States to request to have their data removed. In fact, Google is already trying to figure out how to impliment it on Google.com without having it apply everywhere. That may include giving people different results depending on the origin of their Internet Protocol adress.

In the meantime, Google says that it still has yet to be able to fully review the new changes.

“We haven’t yet seen the Article 29 Working Party’s guidelines, but we will study them carefully when they’re published," a Google spokesperson told VatorNews when we reached out to the company for comment on this story.

VatorNews will update this story if we learn more.

(Image source: thebillfold.com)


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