Following reports that Google will be more strict with how it complies with the European ‘right to be forgotten‘ act, the search giant today clarified how it would do so.

Previously it was reported that if a web page was successfully ‘forgotten’ on one Google domain (.co.uk for example), the company would also ‘forget’ that same page across all Google domains. It turns out, that’s only true if the person searching is doing so from within Europe.

So for example, let’s say we delist a URL as a result of a request from John Smith in the United Kingdom. Users in the UK would not see the URL in search results for queries containing [john smith] when searching on any Google Search domain, including google.com. Users outside of the UK could see the URL in search results when they search for [john smith] on any non-European Google Search domain.

Up until now, Google’s policy was only to delist links from its European domains; google.de, google.fr and google.co.uk, for example. But, web pages delisted from these European search domains could still be found on international domains, regardless of where the search originates. Under the new policy, the links can’t be found by anyone in Europe using any domain. However, they can still show up in searches outside of Europe as long as the searches are performed on non-European Google domains.

Clearly though, Google still doesn’t agree with the principle:

We believe that this additional layer of delisting enables us to provide the enhanced protections that European regulators ask us for, while also upholding the rights of people in other countries to access lawfully published information.

As a reminder, the ‘right to be forgotten’ act was put in to place by the EU in 2014 and allows EU citizens to request that specific links/pages be hidden from Google search results. Requests are submitted using a webform and the information can be delisted as long as it is “inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant or excessive, and not in the public interest”. 

Since it went live, Google has been asked to remove millions of links from its search results.

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