Feeds

EU data guardians: search engines must obey our rules

Which we will issue very soon now

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

European gov data-privacy supremos have collectively said that search engines operating in their jurisdiction are governed by EU personal-data regs even if headquartered elsewhere.

The Article 29 Working Group, a committee of EU member state data protection chiefs, is expected to issue a full working paper on search engines "in the course of the next months".

However, after a meeting this week in Brussels, the group issued a short preliminary statement (pdf).

According to the assembled bureaucrats:

As the use of search engines becomes a daily routine for an ever growing number of citizens, the protection of the users’ privacy and the guaranteeing of their rights, such as the right to access to their data and the right to information as provided for by the applicable data protection regulations, remain the core issues of the ongoing debate.

Search engines fall under the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC if there are controllers collecting users’ IP addresses or search history information, and therefore have to comply with relevant provisions. These provisions also apply to such controllers who have their headquarters outside the EU, but only an establishment in one of the EU Member States, or who use automated equipment based in one of the Member States for the purposes of processing personal data.

So essentially the only way for a search engine to avoid compliance with the EU regs is to have neither offices nor hardware in Europe. Most of the major search providers have at least some such footprint in EU territory.

IP addresses - particularly when times are logged - can be tied to locations and often to individuals, and as such can be viewed as personal information. Exact details of the compliance regime are expected to appear in the full report.

Google told AP that "we look forward to seeing [the Article 29 Group's] report". Microsoft apparently said that a way for companies to comply would be to remove IPs from stored data. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.