The European Union’s “right to be forgotten” may be going global, if a set of regulators have their way.
A group representing the 28 member nations’ privacy regulators met in Brussels and agreed to a new set of guidelines for applying a court ruling that requires Google and other search engines to de-list content from their search results. Those new guidelines call on search companies to remove content worldwide, not just from particular versions of its search engine that serve results to EU countries.
The group, known as the Article 29 Working Party, said one goal is to ensure that people could not circumvent EU law by switching over to a version of Google based outside Europe.
“The WP29 considers that in order to give full effect to the data subject’s rights as defined in the Court’s ruling, de-listing decisions must be implemented in such a way that they guarantee the effective and complete protection of data subjects’ rights and that EU law cannot be circumvented,” the working group said in a press release.
Google and other search engines have opposed the ruling, which allows people to request that information about them be removed from search results for their name, so long as it is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed.”
The guidelines also include a set of criteria designed to guide privacy regulators in EU member states through the process of handling appeals when a search engine chooses not to de-list content as requested by one of their citizens.
It’s possible that some of the policies won’t go into effect, or if they do, they won’t be applied evenly. The working party doesn’t have any direct control over Google, though these guidelines could lead privacy regulators from individual EU member states to adopt policies with those provisions. The Article 29 Working Party is slated to release the guidelines in full later this week.
A representative for Google said that the company is still waiting to review the full guidelines before commenting.
“We haven’t yet seen the Article 29 Working Party’s guidelines, but we will study them carefully when they’re published,” the spokesperson said in a statement emailed to GeekWire.
If the rules do go into effect, get ready for a long and drawn-out fight. Search companies have already been vocal in their opposition to the ruling, and will not be happy if regulators compel them to remove results from sites based outside of the EU.
Google in particular has been having a tough time with European authorities as of late. The company is facing a French bill for back taxes, along with a re-opened antitrust investigation and calls for the company to break up its search business from its other products.