Privacy Group Asks FTC To Push Google on U.S. ‘Right To Be Forgotten’

The failure of Google to offer users in the U.S. the same "right to be forgotten" protection available in Europe violates U.S. law on unfair and deceptive trade practices, according to the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog. The organization on Tuesday submitted a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking the agency to "investigate and act."

Prompted by a 2014 ruling by Europe's Court of Justice, the right to be forgotten enables citizens in the European Union to ask search engines to remove links to personal information about them that is "inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive." Such requests must be handled on a case-by-case basis and, if granted, don't remove content from the Internet but only the links provided in online search results.

Google could "easily" honor similar requests in the U.S, according to Consumer Watchdog. The organization pointed to Google's recent announcement that it would enable users in the U.S. to submit requests to remove links to "revenge porn" images -- private photos posted without a subject's approval -- in its search results. We reached out to Google for comment regarding the Consumer Watchdog complaint but have not received a response.

'Unfair and Deceptive'

"Removal won't always happen, but the balance Google has found between privacy and the public's right to know demonstrates Google can make the right to be forgotten or right to relevancy work in the United States," Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project Director John Simpson said in his request to the FTC. "The Internet giant's current approach of refusing to do so while claiming to protect users' privacy is both unfair and deceptive."

Europeans' right to be forgotten was confirmed in a May 13, 2014 ruling by the EU Court of Justice in favor of a Spanish man who said search results linking to information about a long-resolved home...

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