Consumer Organization Asks Google To Extend “Right To Be Forgotten” To Americans

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Consumer advocates are pushing for America to become like Europe and introduce a “right to be forgotten” on the Internet.

The Consumer Watchdog organization has penned an open letter to Google, asking it to extend the controversial EU ruling to the United States. If it gets its way, it would mean that American citizens could also ask Google to remove links pertaining to them from its search engine results.

“Google is clearly making the  Right To Be Forgotten work for its users in Europe,” wrote John M. Simpson, the organization’s Privacy Project Director. “[Y]ou should be ashamed that Google is not treating people on both sides of the Atlantic the same way.”

Controversy followed the “right to be forgotten” when it was introduced in Europe in May. It came about when Google was ordered by the European Court of Justice to remove links to “outdated or irrelevant” information. Google angrily decried the ruling, arguing that it was censorship. Nevertheless, under the law it began accepting requests from EU citizens to remove links. It has received more than 146,000 requests to delete almost half a million URLs from its search engine, although it’s only agreed to just under half of them.

The Consumer Watchdog cites recent examples, such as a Swiss businessman who requested the removal of about a dozen links to stories reporting on financial crimes for which he was arrested and convicted. Google declined to delete these links, but agreed to a German rape victim’s request for links to articles about her case to be removed.

Google hasn’t been given any guidelines on how to make these calls; it make its own decisions and releases the deals in a transparency report. But according to Simpson, this shows Google is achieving an acceptable balance.

Simpson cited a recent Software Advice survey that found that 61% of Americans want the same “right to be forgotten” as EU citizens have.

photo credit: jasewiththeface via photopin cc

About Mike Wheatley

Mike loves to talk about Big Data, the Internet of Things, Hacktivists and hacking, but he also hates Google and can never resist having a quick dig at them should the opportunity arise 🙂 Got a REAL news story or tip? Email [email protected].

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