Google has responded to European Union data watchdogs by expanding its right-to-be-forgotten rules to apply to its search websites across the globe.
In 2014, search engines were ordered by Europe's top court to scrub certain listings on their indexes. Google—which commands roughly 90 percent of the search market in the EU—claimed at the time that such measures amounted to censorship of the Internet.
However, the landmark European Court of Justice ruling in fact stated that search engines were required to remove links that are old, out of date or irrelevant, and—most significantly of all—not found to be in the public interest.
Indeed, the right-to-be-forgotten may seem evocative to privacy campaigners, but as the UK's Information Commissioner's Office has previously stated, "there is no absolute right [under the ruling] to have information removed."
Google, meanwhile, decided to play the long game by only agreeing to jettison some links from its EU-based search sites, immediately following the judgment. So it applied those rules to Google.co.uk, and Google.de, for example, but not to Google.com.
Now, Google's right-to-be-forgotten policy has changed following pressure from data protection authorities in Europe.
The multinational said that it would use geolocation signals (such as IP addresses) to restrict access to delisted URLs on all of Google's search domains. Mountain View's global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, explained the move in a blog post on Friday:
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.