Consumer Group Calls On Google To Offer Zero Personal Data Retention Policy

Published on

Seeks Meeting With Chairman Eric Schmidt About Privacy Concerns

Santa Monica, CA — Google should offer users of its search engine
the ability to leave no personal data on the Internet giant’s servers,
the nonpartisan, nonprofit Consumer Watchdog said today and asked for a
meeting with Google’s chairman to discuss the group’s privacy concerns.

In a letter to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Consumer Watchdog
President Jamie Court and Policy Advocate John M. Simpson noted that
the search engine Ask.Com offers the ability for users’ personal data
to be removed almost immediately from its servers with its AskEraser
service. “We call on you to offer Google’s users such a clearly
identifiable ‘opt out’ function on its search engine that is
essentially a zero personal data retention policy.”

During  a question and answer period at a New America Foundation speech
in Washington, DC, Schmidt told Simpson that he was “sympathetic” to
the group’s privacy concerns and told him to arrange a meeting “off
line” rather than in front of 200 people. See a video of that exchange

The letter to Google came after the announcement this week by its rival
Yahoo!  that it will anonymize personal data it retains after only 90
days.  Google currently keeps the data for nine months.  European
privacy officials have suggested a six-month standard, a limit that
Microsoft said it would adopt if all search engine companies adopt the

“This is really about choice,” said Simpson. “People should have the
right to choose what they do with their personal data and if they
provide it all.”

Consumer Watchdog’s letter requests a meeting with Schmidt to discuss
the consumer group’s privacy concerns and follows an Oct. 13 letter to

Read that letter here:

Read Google’s Nov. 26 response here:  

Read today’s letter to Schmidt here:

“Google, because of its dominance on the Internet, stands alone as the
entity most able to set and maintain a gold standard for protecting
privacy,” the letter said. “Conversely, it could also be the company
that sounds the death knell for privacy protections on the Internet.”

To guarantee privacy, Consumer Watchdog said, users need: 1) control
over their private data; 2) transparency about how their data is
gathered and used; and 3) the right to give informed consent through
“opt in” functions, rather than having to sift through pages in order
to even locate the “opt out” function, or in its absence, a clearly
identifiable and accessible “opt out.”

View videos that demonstrate how users are in an unnoticed conversation with Google when they use its services at

– 30 –
Consumer Watchdog, formerly The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

Latest Videos

Latest Articles

In The News

Latest Report

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, press releases and special reports.

More articles