Ad group urges FTC to reject right to be forgotten in US

Enforcing the European regulation in the US could open the door to other rules

Consumer Watchdog will file a complaint against Google on July 7, 2015, in an attempt to get the search engine giant to offer the right to be forgotten in the U.S.

Consumer Watchdog will file a complaint against Google on July 7, 2015, in an attempt to get the search engine giant to offer the right to be forgotten in the U.S.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission should reject a privacy group's push to extend the E.U.'s controversial right to be forgotten rules to the U.S. because such regulations would have a "sweeping" negative effect on many U.S. companies, a trade group said.

The FTC should dismiss a July 7 complaint from Consumer Watchdog against Google, the Association of National Advertisers [ANA] said Friday, because the privacy group's request that Google and other Internet firms enforce the right to be forgotten could open the door to more European privacy regulations in the U.S.

If the privacy group's "underlying rationale were accepted, then a myriad of broad privacy protections imposed in Europe would have to be imposed automatically in the U.S. by any company asserting to be protective of privacy interests," Daniel Jaffe, the ANA's executive vice president for government relations, wrote in a letter to the FTC. "Clearly this view is unprecedented, counterintuitive, illogical, and dangerous to free expression."

Consumer Watchdog, a frequent critic of Google, asked the FTC to rule that Google, by declining to delete search engine links on request from U.S. residents, is engaging in an unfair business practice that violates agency rules. While Google tells users it protects their privacy, it doesn't offer U.S. residents "the ability to make such a basic request," Consumer Watchdog said.

But Consumer Watchdog's request that Google and other Internet companies delete search links related to inadequate, irrelevant and excessive personal information is "extraordinarily broad, vague and elusive," Jaffe wrote.

Making those determinations "requires a highly subjective analysis," Jaffe wrote. "Google ... does not possess a Solomonic ability to determine whether information about particular individuals is relevant, excessive or inadequate."

By suggesting that a right to be forgotten rule in the U.S. would be a violation of free speech rights, the ANA appears to misunderstand Consumer Watchdog's complaint, said John Simpson, director of the organization's director Privacy Project.

Consumer Watchdog isn't asking the FTC to determine what links should be removed in search engines, but to require search engines to make their own determinations, he said. The right to be forgotten process seems to have worked well in Europe, where Google has removed links to about 41 percent of the URLs European residents have asked it to remove, Simpson said.

"They've shown they can honor these kinds of requests in Europe, and it's unfair and deceptive not to honor the same sort of requests in the same sort of way in the United States," Simpson said.

Google itself weighed in on the right to be forgotten on Thursday, protesting a notice from the French data protection regulator, the CNIL, telling the search giant to remove links globally, not just on Google.fr, after determining a removal request is valid.

"This is a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web," Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel, wrote in a blog post. "While the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally."

There are "innumerable examples around the world where content that is declared illegal under the laws of one country, would be deemed legal in others," Fleischer added.

The ANA, in its letter to the FTC, questioned Consumer Watchdog's request for the FTC to rule that search engines must remove links to embarrassing content in addition to false, deceptive and defamatory content. The group is "conflating the right to privacy with the right not to be embarrassed," the trade group wrote.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacyregulationinternetGooglesearch enginesU.S. Federal Trade CommissionConsumer WatchdogJohn SimpsonAssociation of National AdvertisersPeter FleischerDaniel Jaffe

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?