Google faces criticism this week from European Union (EU) privacy regulators seeking to rein in the way it has been cutting search links in response to a court ruling on the so-called "right to be forgotten".
Data privacy watchdogs are meeting in Brussels today to try to agree on a road map for how Google should handle requests from citizens who want links to websites pulled.
The world's biggest search engine company has come under fire for telling websites when search results are removed, with officials saying it may draw more attention to the personal information someone is seeking to hide. Regulators "are particularly puzzled by the announcement of notifications given by Google to the webmasters of sites where removals are requested", said Gerard Lommel, the head of Luxembourg's data-protection authority.
Officials also query Google's decision not to remove links on google.com searches made in Europe and several initiatives to publish lists of websites affected by removals.
The EU's 28 national data-protection authorities have been working on the guidelines that "will specify how internet search engines should respond to requests and how they may or may not communicate on removals that have been made", said Elsa Trochet-Mace, a spokeswoman for France's CNIL, which heads the EU group of regulators.
The guidelines may be ready as soon as this week, she said.
This week's meeting will be "important", Lommel said.
"We expect to take a position on such questions the general public is waiting for."
Google was ordered by an EU court in May to delete search results on a person's name on request if the information was outdated or irrelevant. Google, which opposes the EU judgment, wants to stoke a wider debate, and is holding public hearings across Europe to discuss the implications of the ruling. (Bloomberg)