This week Google will close a loophole that allowed people in a European country to view search results that had been deleted under the right to be forgotten.
With the change, Google will use geolocation signals to restrict access to the delisted URL on all Google domains, including google.com, when accessed from the country of the person requesting the removal. The change will be applied retrospectively to all delistings already done under the European Court ruling, according to a blog post on Friday by Google’s Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer.
Previously, the URL was just delisted from all European versions of Google search simultaneously. Fleischer said the change to its approach comes as “a result of specific discussions” with EU data protection regulators in recent months.
“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,” he writes.
Here’s the example Fleischer provides:
“…[L]et’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.”
The data protection regulator in France, CNIL, has been a vocal campaigner to expand right to be forgotten beyond Europe, and include delisting from Google.com as well as the European Google sites. It seems with the latest change at Google that its wish will be granted.
Fleischer said: “Since May 2014, we’ve worked hard to find the right balance as we implement the European Court’s ruling. Despite occasional disagreements, we’ve maintained a collaborative dialogue with data protection authorities throughout. We’re committed to continuing to work in this way.”