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Consumer Watchdog praises state Attorneys General for continuing Wi-Spy probe

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Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 10:19 am

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Consumer Watchdog praises state Attorneys General for continuing Wi-Spy probe

SANTA MONICA, CA — Consumer Watchdog today praised a coalition of state attorneys general led by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal for continuing an investigation into Google’s Wi-Spying scandal in the wake of the Federal Trade Commission halting its probe earlier this week.

In announcing the state plans Blumenthal said:

“Google’s story has changed during the course of our multi-state investigation — demonstrating the need for sustained scrutiny. Rather than rely on Google’s explanations and assurances, our multi-state coalition, led by Connecticut, will work to confirm the facts about how this happened and how consumers will be protected going forward.”

Consumer Watchdog had called on the FTC in May to investigate Google’s Wi-Spying in which the Internet giant’s Street View cars gathered private communications from home Wi-Fi networks in 33 countries.  The nonprofit, nonpartisan group then asked the attorneys general to investigate as well.

“The FTC’s decision to end its investigation based on assurances from Google and no independent verification of the facts was at best premature — at worst a whitewash, ” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Inside Google project. “ ‘We’re sorry and we won’t do it again,’ simply doesn’t cut it. Google must be held accountable. I’m glad the attorneys general understand their responsibility to consumers and will get to the bottom of what was the biggest privacy breach in the Internet era.”

Consumer Watchdog has been working to protect consumers’ online privacy rights and educate them about the issues through its Inside Google Project. The goal has been to convince Google of the social and economic importance of giving consumers control over their online lives. By persuading Google, the Internet’s leading company, to adopt adequate guarantees, its policies could become the gold standard for privacy for the industry, potentially improving the performance of the entire online sector.

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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

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This post was written by:

John M. Simpson

- who has written 349 posts on Inside Google.

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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