EU watchdog in new bid to stop publishers side-stepping 'right to be forgotten' orders

EU privacy regulators are attempting to stop the media from circumventing people's "right to be forgotten" requests.

Some media websites publish fresh stories about the "take-downs" when Google removes links to copy in their archives.

They rely on Google telling them the links have been removed.

But EU data protection watchdogs have said search engines should not inform webmasters about their decisions.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party said: "Search engines should not as a general practice inform the webmasters of the pages affected by removals of the fact that some web pages cannot be acceded from the search engine in response to a specific name-based query.

"There is no legal basis for such routine communication under EU data protection law."

The working party also wants "right to be forgotten" decisions to be applied worldwide.

At the moment, they only apply to Google's European search engines, so users can still find the content by searching Google.com

The report said: "Delisting decisions must be implemented in such a way that they guarantee the effective and complete protection of data subjects' rights and that EU law cannot be circumvented.

"In practice, this means that… delisting should also be effective on all relevant .com domains."

Google has received more than 170,000 requests to remove links to webpages, including news articles, from its search results since the European Courts right to be forgotten ruling in May.

Cleland Thom is author of Internet law for journalists

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