Back in 2001, consumer watchdog Commercial Alert filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission against a number of prominent search engines over using paid listings "without clear and conspicuous disclosure that the ads are ads." In response, the FTC issued a letter recommending disclosure practices that--over time--most of the major search engines have adopted.
Today's SearchDay article, Search Engine Disclosure: Better, but Still Wanting, covers a new report by Consumer WebWatch, which evaluated the current disclosure practices of 15 heavily trafficked search sites. While the report generally lauds the engines, it also finds a few problems, especially surrounding the disclosure of paid inclusion practices.
The report also takes a swipe at Google, which wasn't named in the original Commercial Alert complaint, for not providing the same degree of disclosure as other engines, such as those that use Google's AdWords as their own paid placement listings.