After the European Union started to regulate searches ever more closely, it has been on a ‘censor spree’, imposing stricter regulations on companies like Google and Facebook. After an EU ruling found Google violating particular anti-trust laws in the eyes of the EU, Google is taking some measures to make things right.
Google’s ‘Right-To-Be-Forgotten’ (RTBF) policy is being altered to cover all Google worldwide websites for European users. This means that even if a person physically present in Europe accesses Google worldwide domains, they will still not be able to see the RTBF links.
The RTBF policy was enforced by the European Court of Justice in May 2014, stating that all people in Europe had the right to remove irrelevant information from search engines like Google and Bing.
Google complied with this ruling and introduced the RTBF section only for European sites, arguing that removing the search results from the entire network of Google sites would hurt the concept of free flow of information. In September 2015, CNIL (French data protection authority) threatened to fine Google a sum of $169,000, asking for the RTBF requests to be removed from all Google editions.
Let’s understand this in a better way. Under Google’s RTBF policy, a European user can request the removal of search results which are harmful or violate privacy laws on particular keywords. Users can specify which links are to be removed for particular search terms, and if accepted, Google will remove those search results for those specific search terms.
For example, if a company was entangled in a lawsuit and the lawsuit was dropped 10 years ago, the information is probably not relevant anymore and would be harmful for the company’s future. If the company files a RTBF request, the link will be removed from the search results for the company’s specified search term [company name]. However, the results for the term [Lawsuits against companies 10 years ago] will not be dropped.
Previously, only the search results in the European sites were removed. All a user had to do was visit the Google’s American or Canadian version to see the original search results, even if residing in Europe.
Now, Google has changed its RTBF policy by enabling a geographical constraint. If a user is physically present in the country of the originating RTBF request, he/she will not be able to view the RTBF links on worldwide editions of Google as well.
Continuing with our example, if the company mentioned is a French company and filed a RTBF request from France, the RTBF links would not be available in Google France or any other Google edition for a user residing in France. However, a person residing in Germany would be able to view the links, as of now.
Till now, Google has granted over 1.4 million URLs, with an acceptance rate of 43%. Just recently, Facebook was asked by CNIL to stop tracking users and sending data to the U.S.