Everything you need to know about SEO, delivered every Thursday.
Google Agrees To Complicated Worldwide “Right To Be Forgotten” Censorship Plan
Google will ensure those within a country where a RTBF request was granted cannot find censored content, regardless of what Google edition they use.
Google has said it will begin next week to censor content worldwide that it removes under the European Union’s Right To Be Forgotten mandate. But “worldwide” censorship will only apply to those searching from a particular EU country where the request was originally made.
How The Censorship Works
Does that make your head hurt? This might help. Assume that someone in Germany files a Right To Be Forgotten request to have some listing removed for their name. If granted, the censorship will work like this for searches on that person’s name:
- Listing censored for those in Germany, using ANY version of Google.
- Listing censored for those in the EU, using a European version of Google.
- Listing NOT censored for those outside Germany but within the EU, using non-European versions of Google.
- Listing NOT censored for those outside the EU, using ANY version of Google.
As you can see, it’s worldwide censorship for those within the country where the request was granted, in the sense that no matter what edition of Google they use, the removed listings will not show for the terms involved.
For a deeper explanation of how all this works, including why listing even within the EU will continue to show for other types of searches, see my previous article: Google To Remove Right-To-Be-Forgotten Links Worldwide, For Searchers In European Countries.
Outside the EU, none of the censorship will be in place — so it’s not worldwide when considered that way. This will also be the case for anyone within the EU who manages to disguise their location, such as someone using a VPN.
Google Feared Worse
The move is in response to EU concerns that Google’s previous censorship didn’t fully uphold the Right To Be Forgotten. If someone was within the EU, they could go to Google.com or another non-EU version of Google and still find material that Google was ordered to remove.
This change closes that backdoor — which wasn’t likely used much anyway — on a country-by-country basis. It’s a much better outcome than if Google had been ordered to censor for all people worldwide, as that potentially would have caused it to censor globally for political reasons, such as with China.
Of course, there’s one country that Google does continue to censor globally for: the United States, such as with copyright infringement removals. See our previous article for more about that: How The Myth Of Google Censorship Was Busted By The EU & Canada.