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EU wants Google to extent ‘right to be forgotten’ feature


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Brussels: Google's handling of "right to be forgotten" requests from European citizens came under fire by regulators after the search engine company restricted the removal of Internet links to European sites only, a person familiar with the matter said.

Regulators quizzed Google over its decision to remove search results only from its European search engines such as google.co.uk, which means that anyone can easily access the same information by switching to the widely used google.com, said the source, who was present at the meeting.

The European Union's top court in May ruled that people have a right to request that years-old personal information that is no longer relevant be removed from Internet search results.

Google has so far approved more than half of roughly 90,000 incoming requests, sought additional information in about 15 per cent of cases, and rejected around 30 per cent of them, according to a source close to the company.

European data protection authorities on Thursday met executives from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, which operates the Bing search engine, to discuss the implementation of the landmark ruling.

The search engine operators were also asked to provide more information by the end of the month on their implementation of the ruling, the source said.

The information will then feed into a set of guidelines to be drafted by regulators to help them deal with complaints from citizens over a search engine's refusal to remove a link.

A draft set of guidelines could be ready by mid-September, the source said. Google declined to comment on the details of the meeting.

Given that Google has already received over 90,000 requests, EU regulators are keen to ensure they adopt a coherent approach that fits in with the 28 different data protection regimes in place across the bloc.

Complaints from people whose requests have been refused by Google have begun to trickle in. The British privacy regulator had received 23 complaints by Tuesday afternoon, a spokesman said, while complaints to the French and Italian authorities were still in single figures.

Privacy regulators can take Google to court if it refuses to meet their demands, as happened in Spain where the "right to be forgotten" ruling originated.

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