Google may end up having to censor its search results around the world, including on Google.com, just as it has been forced to do with certain European versions of its search engine.
One of 2014’s big search industry stories was Google being forced to comply with a “right to be forgotten” regulation in the European Union. Ultimately, Google has had to remove content from its search results in cases where requests from individuals are found to be worthy of removal. The whole thing, as expected, has been a pretty big and complex mess, but Google has nevertheless played ball and continued to try and improve the process.
Google has only been doing this in countries where it has been required to do so, and since it went into effect, it’s been facing pressure from European regulators to not only block the results in those countries, but to block the same results in all of its search engines worldwide, including Google.com. Google has not complied with that, and does not seem intent on doing so anytime soon.
However, France has given Google 15 days to comply before the company faces fines, though the appeal process will no doubt drag the whole thing on much longer. Still, it’s not only Europe where Google is facing this kind of pressure. It’s even happening right here in North America, where the Canadian government is also urging Google to remove search results worldwide.
Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land explains the Canadian situation, which he notes may ultimately play out more quickly than the much more publicized situation in Europe:
Here’s the backstory. A Canadian company named Equustek Solutions won a trademark infringement case against another company called Datalink Technologies Gateways. Equustek then wanted Google to remove links to Datalink. Google did so, but only for those using the Google Canada site.
Back to court. Last June, a Canadian judge in British Columbia ordered that Google remove Datalink from its search results. All of them, worldwide. Google appealed; now it has lost that appeal.
As Sullivan notes, Google may still appeal this further, but as it stands right now, things are not working out in Google’s favor, and the pressure on Google to censor search results continues to build.
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