European data privacy regulators said that internet search engines based outside Europe must also comply with EU rules on how a person's internet address or search history is stored, according to an Associated Press report said.
EU rules that someone must consent to their data being collected and give individuals the right to object or verify their information apply to search engines, a statement from the regulators' group, quoted by the Associated Press report, said.
They also apply to companies headquartered outside the EU but have 'an establishment' in one of the EU member states, or that use automated equipment based in a member state for processing personal data, the statement said.
'Search engines fall under the EU data protection directive if there are controllers collecting users' IP addresses or search history information, and therefore have to comply with relevant provisions,' said the group of national regulators from each EU nation, known as the Article 29 Working Party.
The Associated Press report further said the group did not give details on how this compliance would work. But it did acknowledge that internet search engines such as those run by Google, Yahoo or Microsoft's MSN now form part of 'a daily routine for an ever-growing number of citizens.'
Google said the statement didn't change its position and it is committed to working with privacy and consumer advocates as well as EU regulators to improve privacy online for all users.
Neither Yahoo nor Microsoft had an immediate comment, the report said.