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Google search results now driven -- even more -- by location

In the past, Google search results were "driven" by the top level country domain name (ccTLD), such as google.it for Italy or google.ch for Switzerland. Under the guise of providing more location specific search results, Google made an important change on October 27, 2017 to how searches are performed. See Google Blog post.

Under the new policy, search results are driven by your location. Changing the ccTLD no longer changes the location specific search results. For example, if you are in Italy and you typed a search into Google.com (ostensibly for US search results), you will only get search results from Google.it.

Fortunately, Google still provides an option for you to manually select the country specific service you want to use. Go to "Settings" and select the correct "Region Setting".

This change does not affect Google's compliance with the EU's Right to be Forgotten. Google's current practice has been to remove search results -- regardless of the country specific search engine used -- if it appeared that the search was from a computer located within the EU regardless . See Google Blog post. Thus, even if a US visitor in France manually selects the US search search, Google probably will still be removing results based on the RTBF.

This change does mean that the internet has become more balkanized. By making search results automatically country or region specific, countries or regions can control more easily the flow of information within its borders.

In order to circumvent location specific results and control, a person may want explore the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) -- if they are lawfully permitted within a country.

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