It is, by now, widely known that European users can ask Google to “forget” sites with content these users find damaging to their reputation, but the European Court of Justice’s ruling will not be easy to implement, given the global nature of the Internet.
So far, Google has restricted the removal of these links to European sites only, and EU data protection regulators aren’t satisfied because anyone can reach those very same links by simply switching to non-European versions on Google Search.
Even if Google made it so that users coming to those sites from a European IP address don’t see the links in question, such a scheme can be easily circumvented.
On the other had, it would be a really bad idea to allow the EU court – or that of any country for that matter – to be able to force Google or any other search engine to take down specific links across all local versions of their sites. This would open the door for global Internet censorship.
According to Reuters, European data protection authorities have called in executives from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft (who owns Bing) to talk about the best way to put the “right to be forgotten” ruling into practice, as well as to get an update on the current situation.
Google, who has already received over 90,000 requests from European users (and has approved roughly half of them), is struggling to find a balance between users’ right to privacy and the general public’s freedom of information. The company took on a number of policymakers, academics and civil society experts to help them with that mission.