Public wants 'right to be forgotten' online

Public wants 'right to be forgotten' online

Nearly nine in 10 U.S. voters want "the right to be forgotten" on the Internet, according to a new poll.  

Eighty-eight percent support a U.S. law that would let them petition companies like Google, Yahoo and Bing to remove certain personal information that appears in search results, according to the survey conducted by Benenson Strategy Group and SKDKnickerbocker.

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While 52 percent strongly support a U.S. law, another 36 percent somewhat support it. 

That proposal is similar to the European policy known as the "right to be forgotten," which has divided those advocating for increased privacy and others who argue it could curtail free expression.  

Since last year, Europeans have been able to petition search engines like Google or Yahoo to remove links about them when the link contains inaccurate, irrelevant or excessive information about people. 

The wipe of the link from search engines does not remove the actual web page from the Internet, and the European policy only extends to search engines specific to Europe, but not the standard Google.com.

European regulators have pushed for the takedowns to occur more broadly, but Google has resisted, with its own advisory group saying it should only be enforced as is.  

The rules handed down in a court ruling last May have resulted more than 250,000 takedown requests for Google, which is by far the most widely used search engine in Europe.

Of the more than 840,000 web links asked to be removed, Google has complied with about 40 percent of them, according to its transparency report. It evaluates each request against the public interest of keeping it up. 

The poll also found 64 percent of people believe the U.S. government has gone too far in sweeping up information from technology companies for surveillance purposes. Another 36 percent believe the government has struck the right balance. 

The online poll surveyed 1,032 registered voters from Feb. 26-27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.05 percent.