In the letter to Google’s CEO, Dr Eric Schmidt, the groups said: "We urge you to comply with the California Online Privacy Protection Act and the widespread practice for commercial web sites as soon as possible.”
One signatory, Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, DC, said in a statement, "This is not rocket science.
And the word 'privacy' is not got going to take up a lot of space on the Google homepage."
Other signatory organisations include the California-based Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the World Privacy Forum, Consumer Action, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU of Northern California, and the Consumer Federation of California.
The text of the open letter is reproduced below. It describes Google's approach as "alarming" and cites the California Online Privacy Protection Act, a law passed in 2004.
The Article 29 Working Party, an independent European advisory body on data protection and privacy, interpreted Europe's data protection regime as requiring such a link.
"Most internet users are unaware of the large amounts of data that are processed about their search behaviour, and of the purposes they are being used for," it wrote. "If they are not aware of this processing they are unable to make informed decisions about it. The obligation to inform individuals about the processing of their data is one of the fundamental principles of the Data Protection Directive."
It’s not hard to find. We’re a search company. We don’t believe in pushing things into people’s face. We keep it easy and simple to find."
Google told OUT-LAW today that the company is refusing the request. "We don't have plans to change our homepage," a spokeswoman said.
"Privacy policies can be complex and not consumer friendly," said the company's spokeswoman, who pointed out that Google offers a Privacy Center and a YouTube privacy channel with videos explaining the company's practices and products. "To truly help consumers understand privacy, our goal is to provide accessible and useful information," she said.
At the time of writing, links to privacy policies were on the homepages of Microsoft's Live.com, Yahoo.com, Altavista.com, AOL.com, Lycos.com and Excite.com. They were not present on the homepages of Google.com and Ask.com.
The open letter to Google
Dear Dr. Schmidt,