Times Square Video Pokes Google On Privacy

Tue, Sep 7, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Consumer Watchdog has launched a 540-square-foot animated advertisement that mocks Google’s privacy practices by depicting Google chief executive Eric Schmidt using an ice cream truck to steal secret information from children.

    The advocacy group said the video is part of its campaign for the creation of a “do-not-track-me” list and is running twice an hour in New York City’s Times Square. Consumer Watchdog has been a harsh critic of Google, particularly on privacy issues, and has launched a website called Inside Google to “educate the public and opinion leaders about Google’s dangerous dominance over the Internet, computing and our online lives.”

    “Google poses a serious threat to our privacy, and our animation is meant to put a spotlight on the need for Congress to enact a national ‘Do Not Track Me’ list,” wrote Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court, citing Google’s “Street View” privacy controversy and Google’s agreement with Verizon regarding net neutrality.

    The video depicts Schmidt in an ice cream truck telling children, “If there is anything you don’t want anyone to know, well you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Schmidt recently said all young people might need to change their names when they get older to avoid traces of their past accumulated on various social networking sites.

    “We like ice cream as much as anyone, but we like privacy even more. That’s why we provide tools for users to control their privacy online, like Google Dashboard, Ads Preferences Manager, Chrome incognito mode and ‘off the record’ Gmail chat,” said Google when asked for a response, directing users to its privacy homepage.

    The video ends by asking viewers to call Congress and demand the creation of a list similar to the Federal Trade Commission’s “Do Not Call” registry, which is supported by other consumer advocacy groups. The FTC has said any such list would have to be mandated by Congress.

    See the video here.

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