EU regulators demand global “right to be forgotten”

European privacy regulators have stated their intention to apply the “right to be forgotten” rule to the rest of the globe.

In May, the European Union decided that citizens could choose to request their names and information be excluded from search engine results. Since that ruling more than 170,000 requests have been made to do so, involving a number of different page types, including news articles.

Google, which owns a majority share of the search engine market, applied the rules to its local sites in the EU – Google.co.uk for the UK and Google.fr for France and so on – but did not apply it to Google.com.

“One of the natural consequences” of the EU ruling has been that people have begun to “use Google more flexibly,” Paul Bernal, lecturer in law at the University of East Anglia, told Bloomberg. “If you can’t find what you want in Google.co.uk, then you use Google.com.”

Now a legislative group, comprising of the EU’s 28 privacy regulators, have decided that the “right to be forgotten” should be extended to all Internet domains. The group is set to publish a list of guidelines for companies like Google to implement such a strategy.

Google has been embroiled in ongoing legal battles with various EU bodies this year. The search giant is still under scrutiny from a four-year long antitrust investigation and has recently been told to “break up” its business to weaken its monopoly.

The Mountain View-based firm has also clashed with regulators over how it implements the “right to be forgotten”. Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, head of France’s privacy watchdog, criticised how the company often informs websites that their page is to be scrubbed from results.

This often results, she said, in the victim’s name being brought back into the spotlight through other means.

A Google spokesperson said that while the company had not yet seen the guidelines they would “study them carefully when they’re published”.