SANTA MONICA, CA – The father of a California woman whose family name remains linked in Internet search results to graphic leaked police photos of her fatal car crash, today joined Consumer Watchdog in calling for the “Right To Be Forgotten” to be honored in the United States.

“Since the leak my family has been forced to relive the shock every time the horrific images reappear simply because there are no tools in place to stop it,” said Christos Catsouras during a news conference at the public interest group’s office. “‘The Right To Be Forgotten’ is the only chance for my family to find closure, and to finally grieve.”

  Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission’s  Bureau of Consumer Protection has confirmed the FTC staff is considering Consumer Watchdog’s complaint last week that Google’s failure to honor Right To Be Forgotten requests in the United States is an unfair and deceptive practice.

View Consumer Watchdog’s July 7 complaint here:

Catsouras explained that his 18 year-old daughter, Nikki, died tragically in an automobile crash in 2006. After the police investigation, the graphic confidential investigative images of her remains were leaked and posted on the Internet.  Those photos continue to be linked to her name and the names of other Catsouras family members in Internet search results on Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

“These links serve no useful purpose whatsoever and the Catsouras family should have the right to have them removed,” said John M. Simpson, the nonpartisan nonprofit group’s Privacy Project director.

In May 2014 the European Court of Justice ruled that Europeans have the right to request the removal of search engine links from their name to information that is “inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant, or excessive.”  Popularly known as the Right To Be Forgotten, this ability to request removals is more accurately the “Right To Relevancy” or “Privacy By Obscurity” for the digital age, said Consumer Watchdog.

In deciding whether to grant removal requests a balance must be struck between the public’s right to know and the individual’s right to privacy, the court ruled.

According to its “Transparency Report,” since Google began considering Right To Be Forgotten requests in Europe in May 2014, Google has received 282,508 removal requests. The Internet giant evaluated 1,027,495 URLs for removal from its search results, and has dropped 359,803 or 41.3 percent.  It declined to remove 511,623, or 58.7 percent of the links.

View the Google report here:

Google could easily honor Americans’ Right To Be Forgotten requests the same way as it does in Europe, Consumer Watchdog said. The Internet giant’s June 19 announcement that it would honor requests to remove links from its search results to so-called “revenge porn” – nude or explicit photos posted without the subject’s consent – underscores the fact that Google could easily honor Right To Be Forgotten requests in the U.S., Consumer Watchdog said.

“In the bricks and mortar world the reality that matters no longer relevant to an individual’s life slipped from the general public’s consciousness over time is Privacy By Obscurity,” said Simpson.  “The Digital Age has ended that. Everything – all our digital footprints – are instantly available with a few clicks on a computer or taps on a mobile device.  The Right To Be Forgotten restores Privacy By Obscurity to the Digital Age.”


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