How Has Google Cleaned Up Since the EU Court’s Privacy Ruling?

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is complying with the European Union’s privacy rules, but only in that region. Elsewhere, a user’s privacy depends on local laws.

In a mere fortnight following Google’s loss at the European Union Court of Justice, the tech giant has put up for a form so that those European users who want to be forgotten on Google can be. Users that are not physically residing in a European Union country or a citizen of one of those countries have to use other methods to get those misleading or embarrassing Google results removed.

The form makes clear that it is an initial response to the court ruling, which guaranteed privacy for EU citizens by telling Google it could not deny their requests to be removed from search results, guaranteeing what it calls “the right to be forgotten.” Google called the decision “censorship,” but is abiding by the ruling in creating the form. Its text says that this new form is acting in accordance with said court decision.

“In implementing this decision, we will assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information. When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information; for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials,” wrote Google in the form.

In other words, when a user fills out this form, it may not be guaranteed that Google will remove the offending material.

The form asks for names, emails, links, why they need to be removed, countries, some form of identification to verify identities, and an electronic signature. All of this goes to be processed so that it can be verified that the person using the form is a EU citizen or resident.

Americans who want content removed from Google can go to this page, which basically tells them to contact the webmaster of the webpage to remove information or to provide the court order information via another form. From there, the indexing would modify the result based on the changes. That is the only way to get similar information removed in the United States. So decades-old MySpace photos from an account a user may not be able to access anymore would require reaching out to MySpace’s tech support to get into the old account.

Google is not the only American company affected by the European court decision. Other search engines like Bing and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) are likewise affected. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter, and other social media outlets are subject to European Union privacy laws because they do business in those countries. Those privacy laws do not extend to Americans and United States residents using Google from an American IP address.

So in short, Google is following the new privacy rules, but only in countries where it is legally required of them.

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