Data protection laws in Europe are tougher than they are anywhere else on the planet, and companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook have often been at odds with privacy watchdogs and regulators in the continent because of stringent legislations. With the much talked-about ‘Right to be Forgotten’ clause becoming a legal right across the EU thanks to a landmark judgment by the European Court of Justice in May 2014, Google has been besieged with 386,038 requests from individual citizens and organizations for altering its search results, to filter out false, outdated and/or potentially damaging information, as the case may be. While Google reluctantly accepts many of these requests to stay on the right side of the law, a number of EU data protection authorities have always argued that the company needs to do more.
Now, according to latest developments, the American tech giant seems to be falling in line with privacy watchdogs in the continent. The company has now reportedly agreed to implement a controversial clause of the act, under a clear and present danger of falling afoul of regulators, thereby invoking heavy penalties, or worse. While Google admits to having responded positively to 42 percent all data removal requests from citizens and organizations across the continent, the action was valid only on specific European domains of the search giant. Meaning, those results could still be accessed by just hopping over to the company’s Google.com domain instead of using the Euro-centric domains of the company. That, however, is all set to change now, as the California-based company is updating its software to make sure that once a removal request is accepted from somebody from a particular country, nobody from that country will be able to access the information, irrespective of which domain they’re searching on.
To accomplish this, Google says it will base its search results on the IP (Internet Protocol) address of its users rather than keep it domain-based, as was the case thus far. The change in policy, however, will only be applicable to users within the continent. For those trying to access the exact same information from outside Europe though, nothing changes. Anybody whose IP address identifies them as being from outside of Europe, will continue to have an uncensored and unrestricted free flow of information coming their way. Privacy watchdogs in both Britain and France sounded cautiously optimistic after Google informed all such agencies of its future course of action.