EU demands Google extend 'right to be forgotten' to all domains

Google building

EU privacy regulators want 'right to be forgotten' requests to be removed from all domains owned by search engine companies, not just their European domains.

At the moment, Google, Bing and other search companies have erased results about individuals' personal information from their European domains when that information is "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant".

But the EU now wants search giants to scrub such results from all their domains, including .com, under its new Article 29 Working Party (WP29) guidelines that extend the ruling.

The 'right to be forgotten' rule allows the public to request search engines remove links containing "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive" information about them.

In the latest guidelines, agreed on yesterday, the EU said: "Limiting de-listing to EU domains on the grounds that users tend to access search engines via their national domains cannot be considered a sufficient means to satisfactorily guarantee the rights [of people]."

To date, Google has received around 175,000 requests from the public in all 28 EU countries, referring to 600,000 websites. It has only removed around 40 per cent of them, saying the others do not fit its criteria for removal or that further information is needed.

The UK is responsible for around a third of these requests relating to 65,000 links. France and Germany followed close behind with 29,010 and 25,078 link requests, respectively.

Other advisories included in the WP29 guidelines is a list of 13 criteria that data protection authorities will use to handle complaints about search engines refusing to remove listings it doesn't believe are 'inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive'.

The 'right to be forgotten' ruling was passed by the European Union Court of Justice this summer after a Spanish citizen requested information relating to an auction notice of his repossessed home be taken down because it infringed his privacy.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.