back to article Google adds 'data protection' WARNING to Euro search results

Google has begun notifying European Union-based netizens that its search results have to respect the 28-member-state bloc's 19-year-old data protection law. The ad giant has plastered the warning on its search engine across the EU from today. But, anyone living in those countries who navigate to will find that the " …


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  1. Jim 48

    Is this proven or are you just postulating? If the former, do you have any live examples?

    Another article I read on the subject suggested that they use location based logic to determine what should be missed off the results.

  2. The Mole

    What adwords

    The interesting question is what adwords are shown alongside the results on If they are adwords were sold by a European based division of Google then the EU will probably conclude that the results on the google page are still in the remit of the EU (as per the original judgement). If they are not then whether has to be impacted is more difficult to call - though the Canadians have ruled that the answer is yes (probably fairly given how much geolocation adjustments google do).

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: What adwords

      I searched for "car rental" on and gave me lots of local results for car rental places in my town, did not. However the adwords links for both looked pretty much the same, for various uk based national car rental places and price comparison services.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems to be proven

    Clicking on the "" link on the bottom of the page seems to set your preference to unfiltered US search results.

    Not sure what privacy regulators will make of this - I had expected location based filtering as well...

  4. MrRtd

    I feel that the responsibility for removal of personal information lies with the actual websites that have your information. Google just facilitates the search. I am all for the right to be forgotten, but lets deal with the source of the "problem", get the host of said information to delete it. When the source is removed, it will then eventually be removed from Google.

    1. Wensleydale Cheese

      "When the source is removed, it will then eventually be removed from Google."

      Are you sure about that?

      Google still sends a lot of traffic to a web page I removed last November.

      1. Wensleydale Cheese

        "Google still sends a lot of traffic to a web page I removed last November."

        That simple statement has gained me 4 downvotes so far.

        Proof that Google shills are out and about?

    2. Meerkatjie

      That would be censorship and follows the people who complained about the ruling saying it would be a licence to change history. The idea is more around making it difficult to find the information without going to the source location. If I have a 100 CVs on my desk I am not going to search for their names in the Daily Mail to see what random scandal they have been involved in. If that scandal has no relation to how they are now or what they are doing then I don't need to know about it.

      As a teenager I smoked but I no longer smoke. In 20 years time when smoking is considered the evilest thing possible I too would like Google not to bring up my high school pictures which show me with a smoke. It is no longer relevant and shouldn't be easily available. The fact that I did smoke should not be forgotten by the source since it may become relevant later and in which case it should become easily available again.

  5. PacketPusher

    Back the bus up

    I came into this story late so I am not that familiar with how it started. Can someone point me to an explanation of why this is even a Google issue? It seem to me that the citizen should complain to the web site that publishes the irrelevant or obsolete information rather than the search engine that links to it.

    1. ratfox

      Re: Back the bus up

      The right to be forgotten apparently means that, though archives of old embarrassing data may still exist and be available, they should not be too easy to find.

      So the websites are allowed to keep showing the data, but Google is not allowed to display them in results.

      It does seem strange! But I'd like to offer a parallel: Anybody who sees you in the street is allowed to recognize you and tweet your position. However, it would probably be illegal to build a countrywide network of cameras with facial recognition system that would allow anybody to query for your position. Unless the government does it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So if I google a name on, get the first 1000 results, then do the same on .com and diff the results anything in the latter set which is missing from the former set is potentially something that person didn't want known so merits reading more closely?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Diff?

      You got it.

      It's a good case for suggesting that the middle finger on Googles right hand stretches across the Atlantic ....

      1. Tom 35

        Re: Diff?

        And at best this will never work better then the blocking of pirate bay. If people feel Google.___ is not as usefull as .com, they will find a way to use .com, even if they force google to hide the handy button.

  7. Old Handle

    Really, El Reg?

    Normally I trust the Register to report things in an unbiased way (Except Orlowski, of course) but this is pretty sad. You make it sound like Google is either plastering a giant warning over their localized sites tying to push everyone to .com or have set up some kind of explicit click-through to evade blocked results. Neither is true.

    The data protection removal notice only shows up when you do a search for someone who has been "forgotten", such as Mario Costeja-González. This is the same policy they use when search results are removed for other legal reasons, and it seems perfectly reasonable to me. And in this case they don't even disclose any details about the case like they do with copyright claims. Nor is there link to on either the search result page or page explaining how they handle that law, only on the front page.

    I just don't see any kind of "wink-wink nudge-nudge use the link for the good stuff" message here.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Just tried it

      If I ask for, I get redirected to To go to, I have to click on the link to it at the bottom of the page. For all I know, Google has worked liked this for ages. Anyone know for sure when this started?

      1. Fluffy Bunny

        Re: Just tried it

        It's been working that way for years. There is a special ending to the URL that keeps you on the site if you want it to stay. Otherwise it redirects you to local servers.

    2. VinceH

      Re: Really, El Reg?

      "The data protection removal notice only shows up when you do a search for someone who has been "forgotten", such as Mario Costeja-González."

      Well I haven't been "forgotten" by Google, and the warning shows up at the bottom of the page if I search for myself - and my name is suitably uncommon that I don't think there's someone else with the name who may have asked to be forgotten.

      1. Old Handle

        Re: Really, El Reg?

        Oh really? I guess I was mistaken. It certainly doesn't do that for every search, or even every name. I wonder how it works then. That does explain why it says "may have been removed" though.

        I owe the author an apology. Although I still think the tone was a bit over the top.

  8. De Facto

    Class action for evading the court decision?

    Suppose you have a nasty divorce process in the family with small kids, where one of the parties foolishly used local news site to accuse the other party for crimes that never happened. Divorce ends as usual with split families and divided property, the only common responsibility both parties share are kids. The local news site does not run a global search engine. After 5 years this private family case is forgotten but in Google. Kids are in their teens and are using Google for everything. Imagine a traumatic experience of kids when searching for their parent names, when top ranked results of some local news sites, always high on Google page rank, depict both parents as criminals, with anonymous comments that ruin both parents reputation forever indexed. Think this evil could not happen to your family or kids? Think again!

  9. William 3 Bronze badge

    Excuse me?

    But why are people getting so excited that an American based International Company can take the piss out of another countries laws? Is that really what you want, Internationals that don't respect your countries laws?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Excuse me?

      Rumour has it that (lots of) people get paid by Google to see that comment sections are favourable to them. And since down voting happens anonymously it’s the easiest way. But it still stinks that Google can get away with open contempt for EU laws.

      Time to get them Baby Belled, quick-quick.

      Anonymous for obvious reasons.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Jamie Jones Silver badge
  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The next question: what are the other search engines doing about it or is it just discrimination against Google?

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Other Search?

      There are useful other search engines?

  13. cracked


    Another good write up to add to the list (-8

    The law used by the EU to get Google to action the "Right to be forgotten" stuff is nothing specifically to do with the Internet and quite old.

    Because every search engine has to perform actions which fall under the Data Protection Acts (1995, maybe?) they are classed as Data Controllers within the EU.

    (Basically, because they do collect information on people, even though they don't care if it is about people, they are data controllers whatever else they do or say)

    And so Google, once it gave up the fight, created a (rubbish) mechanism to comply with the data control laws and then did what it was always most likely to do ... Claim it is not always an EU company - And so not always subject to those laws

    And so ... The question then is:

    Under the EU Data Protection legislation; what is the critical location-based component?

    a) Where the data is about (A man who lives in Spain)?

    b) The nationality of the Subject (A Spanish citizen on holiday in Florida)

    c) Where the data is held (which Google "database" was accessed on a query by query basis)

    d) Where the data is processed (The location of the Google machine "indexing" the data - putting it into the database)

    e) Where the data is retrieved (Seen on a screen in a coffee shop in Paris)

    My memory is that:

    A & B - Are irrelevant except that only an EU citizen can be given protection under the laws (I believe!!?):

    C - If the retrievable data is held in the EU then the legislation applies

    D - In Google-speak, "Indexing" The legislation was written when it was assumed a person would be processing and controlling the data; and the location of that person mattered. So, the location of the indexing (processing) machines may be critical

    E - The hot-maps issue.

    Just Search Engines?

    I don't think so, and this is why the DP legislation needs starting from scratch. Any website running its own search engine - even just for its own data - would appear to be liable under the recent judgement, if they hold indexed information about a person(s)

    All that written ...

    The issue isn't really whether Google passes or fails these tests. The Data Protection Laws are horrible now that information is easily shared inside and outside the EU. Only starting again will be of any use and to be honest - given the way the web works - only symbolic at best.

    And with that written, the much wider issue is the amount of influence large US-based (to an extent) companies have on the daily life of non-Americans. Really, that's is the battle being fought (by the EU) and not just with Google.

    This will get messy ...

    1. cracked

      Re: Jurisdiction

      Replying to yourself isn't really healthy, is it?

      I should - possibly - have included an F ...

      f) The registered location of the Legal Entity that "employs, owns or controls" the Data Controller

      Legal Entity = Google EU, UK, DE - any Google business with a registered address inside the EU )

      Data Controller = Database / Indexer / Query-Engine / Interface

      F - And this is probably where it is going to get very, very messy for the EU (and relatively inexpensive for Google).

      The recent EU judgement appears to specifically regard search engines (no Capitalisation) as Machine-Data-Controllers. That is a modern interpretation of the old law. When I was a Data Controller, even though I might use Excel to process or store the data, I was the Data Controller, not Excel.

      Because Google argued that no person did anything with the data (so it was not a Data Controller), the EU made it clear that Excel could be a data controller

      Google - the only search engine so far taken to court over the issue - seems to have rolled over on this point. Because it will in the end have suited Google to do so.

      The judgement specifically sets out the components that make a Machine-Data-Controller. The logical extension would seem to be that all four parts of that machine must then be controlled from within the EU, for the Data Controller to fall under the remit of the EU

      Hence the Query-Engine / Interface switch of yesterday, noted in the original article.

      And so, F becomes important because the only road open to the EU would appear to be to say that, via inter-company relationships, Google EU does have control over the Google US Query-Engine.

      And I can't see the US happily agreeing to the implications of that interpretation of Corporate Governance?

  14. MacroRodent Silver badge


    stats provided by Google that appeared to show that fewer than five per cent of all searches by EEA netizens were performed on the domain.

    Quite possible, because they by default redirect according to your location. If I type "" to the address bar, I find myself at "", the Finnish version. Probably something similar happens in other countries. ("" does have the "use" link, but I guess most people do not use it).

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Been there for ages...

    The warning about omitted search results may be new, but a link to use has been on the site for ages.

  16. TheColinous

    UK does have some quite vicious contempt of court penalties... :)

  17. Mage Silver badge

    I warned ye!

    When it comes to Google people are less logical than with Apple.

    I think they don't understand or else ignore concepts like "privacy", "regulation", "evil".

    They are poisoning everyone's ability to search too by the automatic suggestions that seem impossible to turn off unless you log in. Type searches by only looking at keyboard?

    They also corrupt search results with places you visited before. I want SEARCH, not a dammed "bookmarker service" polluted with adverts and wisdom of the crowd previous searches. Also I do not want to have to put -youtube on searches. I NEVER want to have videos or search for them.


    a) the original sites are ones that need changed if a privacy issue

    b) why can't I sensibly search by value or date of document? (I know why, but still annoying)

    c) Google's advertising (the reason they exist) will hardly be affected by properly following intention of regulations. They are obviously arrogant (WiFi Slurp of Street view).

    d) They don't want to pay tax or be subject to any laws.

    I'm conflicted as I need Google's YouTube (my own video sharing), Search and Translate. But I feel the "cost" of Search is very high. I wonder about Google Translate. Are they slurping all that to a special place (I don't SEND with Google Mail)? I think next I will host my own video. It's niche stuff of short duration so the bandwidth and storage isn't an issue.

    In the olden days I used Altavista and Babel Fish.

    In the very olden days the Librarian showed me how to use the Subject divisions of shelves and the two versions of card Indexes, Title and Author.

    1. cracked

      Re: I warned ye!

      "a) the original sites are ones that need changed if a privacy issue"

      (I am in no way defending Google)

      This is potentially just as bad - if not worse - than just deleting it from Google (or not).

      * The removal of factually correct information, because it is "no longer news" is not a good thing.

      * The removal of information that is factually incorrect is OK (under supervision by society)

      The problem is that when the laws being used were drafted, old newspapers could not easily be searched. Before this was an issue - before the web - you had to go to a public library - and usually search only by date - to dig up old news.

      This is the EUs problem - Now it is too easy - But (hopefully) it will not want to solve that problem by actually removing valid factual content (however old), only the ease of finding it (if it feels it must do anything at all)

      Bashing Google is just fine. Much more of it should be done. But bringing in awful laws that can easily be abused while doing so, is not so good.

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