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Google’s Compliance With The “Right To Be Forgotten” Will Remain Exclusive To Europe, For Now

January 19, 2015 - Written By Greg Bernard

Up until now, Google has for the most part complied with takedown requests for the European law regarding a citizen’s “right to be forgotten.” In its latest in a series of legal struggles with the European Union, a recent request by the Article 29 Working Party has asked Google to block search results not only on European domains, but across the board. On Friday, Article 29 Working Party, the data protection authority of the European Union (EU), issued a reminder to major search engines that requested takedowns must be scrubbed across all relevant domains.

Previously, Google argued that the law should only extend to European domains, such as Google.fr, or Google.de. However, the Article 29 Working Party concluded in November that it is far too easy to switch to international domains such as Google.com, where the otherwise blocked search results are easily accessible. They said for that reason, the content ought to be removed from search results globally as well as in the EU. David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, commented Monday that Google’s approach up until this point has been in compliance with the European law. “We’ve had a basic approach, we’ve followed it, on this question we’ve made removals Europe-wide but not beyond. We’ll take that (the report), along with the Article 29 input and other input and arrive at an approach. It’s our strong view that there needs to be some way of limiting the concept, because it is a European concept.”

Though the EU is requesting more censorship, Google is mindful of the laws concerning freedom of speech that are prevalent in many countries internationally. It seems that those outside of Europe can rest easy knowing that their search results are safe, for now. The phrase and concept known as the “right to be forgotten” began to gain popularity in Europe starting in 2006. In May 2014, the phrase gained international notoriety when the European Court ruled that search engines are responsible for their content, and thus are responsible for taking down defamatory or offensive content when requested. Google has received over 200,000 takedown requests since the ruling; it has rejected approximately 58% of them, choosing to comply only with those it deems to be in step with the European law.