Santa Monica, CA — Consumer Watchdog today formally launched its new Website, Inside Google, to focus attention on the company’s activities and hold Google accountable for its actions. The sites’ URL is http://insidegoogle.com.
The nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group is launching Inside Google to educate the public and opinion leaders about Google’s dangerous dominance over the Internet, computing and consumers’ online lives. Inside Google’s blog is authored by experienced consumer advocates and journalists working to expose the “black box” at Google with an eye towards holding Google engineers accountable to social mores, ethical customs and the rule of law.
“Google advocates openness and transparency for everyone else, but when it comes to their own activities, the company is extremely secretive,” said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate with Consumer Watchdog. “Inside Google will focus needed public attention on Google’s activities.”
In the fall of 2008, with the support of the Rose Foundation, Consumer Watchdog embarked upon a privacy project to educate the public and opinion leaders about the need for greater online privacy, and to hold Google accountable for tracking consumers online without explicit permission. The goal was to convince Google of the social and economic importance of giving consumers control over their on-line lives.
By persuading Google, the Internet’s leading company, to adopt adequate privacy guarantees, its policies could become the gold standard for privacy for the industry, potentially improving the performance of the entire online sector, the group believed. As Google’s growth continued unchecked into an array of sectors, Consumer Watchdog expanded its investigation and advocacy:
— Consumer Watchdog called for the U.S. Justice Department to intervene in the proposed Google Books class action settlement and oppose it antitrust grounds. The DOJ is opposing the settlement which is awaiting a ruling in Federal District Court. Through its attorney, Kasowitz, Benson, Consumer Watchdog filed two friend-of-the-court briefs opposing the deal.
— Consumer Watchdog joined with the Center for Digital Democracy in urging the Federal Trade Commission to block the proposed $750 million deal for Google to buy mobile advertising company, AdMob, for antitrust reasons. The FTC is expected to announce its decision shortly.
–Since beginning its Google Privacy and Accountability project, Consumer Watchdog had advocated that the Internet giant offer SSL encryption on its services. Earlier this year Google said it would make SSL the default mode on its Gmail service. Friday Google said it would offer SSL on its search engine.
— In April, Consumer Watchdog called on the Department of Justice to launch a full-blown antitrust investigation of Google’s activities and said that the breakup of Google was a remedy that should be among the possibilities considered.
— When Google’s “WiSpy” scandal broke with news from Europe that the Internet giant was gathering data from private net works, Consumer Watchdog asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. Today Rep. Ed Markey and Joe Barton wrote the FTC asking if WiSpy violated any federal laws.
— A Freedom of Information Act request to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy resulted in a reprimand for Ex-Google Andrew McLaughlin for inappropriate communication with his former colleagues.
Contributors to the site include:
John M. Simpson is a veteran journalist. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Simpson taught journalism at Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. A frequent contributor to op-ed pages across the country, Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues.
Margot Williams has more than two decades of experience in roles as investigative researcher, research editor, database editor, technology trainer and library director at The New York Times, The Washington Post, Gannett newspapers and Time Warner. She was lead researcher on two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams at The Washington Post for reporting . She is the co-author of “Great Scouts! CyberGuides for Subject Searching on the Web” (Cyberage Books, 1999) and contributed to the “Networkings” column in The Washington Post for five years.
Glenn Simpson was an investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal from 1995 to 2009 and is the recipient of several journalism awards. He covered American campaigns and Washington politics for more than two decades as well as the technology industry, digital privacy issues, antitrust, and the Federal Trade Commission. He is the co-author of Dirty Little Secrets: The Persistence of Corruption In American Politics. (Random House; 1996).
Jamie Court, Consumer Watchdog’s President, is an award-winning and nationally recognized consumer advocate. Court is the author of Corporateering: How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom And What You Can Do About It (Tarcher/Putnam, June 2003). Court helped to pioneer the HMO patients’ rights movement in the United States, sponsoring successful laws in California and aiding them elsewhere. He has also led major corporate campaigns to reform insurers, banks, oil companies, utilities and political practices.
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Consumer Watchdog, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, Ca. Consumer Watchdog’s website is www.consumerwatchdog.org. Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website: http://InsideGoogle.com