Search engine giant Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) is finding itself stuck between a rock and a hard place in trying to navigate the requirements of handling of “right to be forgotten” requests from citizens of EU countries. The so called EU privacy rules require Google and other search engine firms to remove links to information that are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive” that show up when an individual searches for their name (when requested to do so).
Numerous sources confirm that European regulators are not happy with the fact that Google is only removing links from local European versions of its search engine, meanings searchers can easily find the removed links by searching non-local Google.com. EU regulators are also concerned about Google’s decision to automatically notify the owners of the websites that have been removed from search results.
Meeting on Thursday
According to sources that spoke to Reuters, EU data protection authorities have a meeting scheduled with representatives of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) (which owns the Bing search engine) and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) on Thursday to discuss the implementation of the EU privacy rules that give people the right to request that outdated links be removed from Internet search results.
Google says decision is restricted to localized versions
Apparently the major bone of contention is is Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s decision to only remove search results from its European search engines (such as google.co.uk), which means you can easily access the “deleted” information by switching to non-local google.com.
This effectively defeats the purpose of the EU privacy rules, which are supposed to prevent links to information deemed “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive” from appearing when people search for their name.
“Google has claimed that the decision is restricted to localized versions of Google,” explained Ashley Hurst, a partner at the law firm Olswang. “There appears to be no basis for that claim at all.”
EU privacy regulators are also upset about Google’s decision to automatically notify the owners of websites that have had links removed from search results in the name of transparency.
The search engine giant already notifies the owners of websites that are deleted from its search results because of copyright infringements.
This practice caused an outcry a few weeks ago when Google removed links to an article by a BBC journalist about an ex-Wall Street banker and other links to related stories in the Guardian newspaper.
The authors of the stories then wrote about Google’s deleting of the links, thereby drawing attention to the issue and questions about who requested the removal. In this case, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) eventually returned several of the links to the Guardian articles.
European regulators are worried about the effect the notification process might have on people making the requests, i.e, that it could potentially discourage people from making requests.