Search leader Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) should offer a "right to be forgotten" policy in the U.S., just as it does in the European Union, says consumer group Consumer Watchdog in a letter filed with the Federal Trade Commission.
The nonprofit consumer organization, a longtime Google critic, cited the "right of relevancy" provision of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which the Federal Trade Commission enforces in the U.S. The act "requires that after a certain period of time — seven years in most cases — information about debt collections, civil lawsuits, tax liens, and even arrests for criminal offenses become obsolete and must be taken out of consumer reports."
Google's "refusal to honor the right and consider such removal requests in the U.S. while holding itself out to be concerned about users' privacy is both unfair and deceptive" and violates those FTC provisions, according to the letter, signed by John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog privacy project director.
"Google's own experience in Europe demonstrates that Right To Be Forgotten removal requests can be managed in a way that is fair and not burdensome for Google," Simpson said in the letter, filed with the FTC on Tuesday.
Since Google began considering such requests in May 2014, Consumer Watchdog said, the company has received 274,462 removal requests. After evaluating 997,008 URLs, Google declined to remove 58%, the consumer group said.
In May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union gave EU residents the ability to ask search engines to delete results that turn up under a search of their name that are inflammatory or out of date.
To comply, Google set up an online form allowing individuals to request to have their information removed from the Web.
Google says it can "decline to remove certain information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials."
Last month, Google said that it would allow Web users to request that "revenge porn" images be removed from Google's search engine.
During the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in 2014, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced that the DuckDuckGo search engine — a search engine that says it doesn't track users — would be added to Safari as a search engine option, along with Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Google stock was down 1% in afternoon trading in the stock market today, near 518.
Apple stock was down nearly 2%, near 123.