Originally at https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/04/05/when-is-a-search-engine-not-a-search-engine-when-its-google-says-the-eu/

The European Union’s Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive is a piece of legislation, due to be adopted this spring, which lays out the first set of EU-wide cyber security rules.

The final text was agreed on in December 2015, setting out a range of strategies for tackling and preventing cyber attacks and disruptions. Its proposals have been met with a lukewarm reception from the industries it covers, which include everything from digital technologies to social networks, financial institutions and ecommerce sites.

Now, it seems like search engines might have the biggest bone to pick with the EU’s Directive – because according to the legislation, they aren’t search engines at all.

The NIS Directive has settled on a definitive definition for an ‘online search engine’, what it is and what it does. According to the Directive:

“‘Online search engine’ is a digital service that allows users to perform searches of in principle all websites in a particular language, on the basis of a query on any subject in the form of a keyword, phrase or other input; and returns links in which information related to the requested content can be found.”

I’ve bolded the key part of that quotation – “in principle all websites”. Because Google, although it indexes the vast majority of websites on the internet, draws a number of lines about what it will include in search results. It doesn’t index Tor websites, and complies with ‘robots.txt’ requests from website owners who don’t want Google to index their pages.

Google also complies with the EU’s own Right to Be Forgotten ruling, which allows users to request that outdated or irrelevant content be removed from Google’s listings. Other types of web pages that Google de-indexes include copyright infringing content, revenge porn and ‘mugshot extortion’ websites.

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