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Neither Sleet Nor Snow Stops Video Van

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Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

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Neither Sleet Nor Snow Stops Video Van

Despite a six-hour commute home on what should have been a 20 minute drive after Wednesday’s snowstorm, our mobile ad truck braved the streets again in this morning’s flurries so “Mr. Schmidt Goes to Washington” could crash a “World Privacy Day” event at Google’s lobby shop in DC.

The ad greeted audience members to call attention to the fact that Google still refuses to provide basic answers to questions about the largest wire-tapping scandal in American history – in which the company’s Street View cars sucked up private data from wireless networks around the world.

We created the “Mr. Schmidt” animation to make the case for why Congress should call Google CEO Eric Schmidt to testify under oath about the company’s Wi-Fi spying incident.

It’s a funny video with a serious message, because the best argument for Congressional hearings into Google’s Wi-Fi spying incident and the broader privacy concerns with Google’s massive database of consumer information are Eric Schmidt’s own disturbing statements on privacy.

I was hoping to get a chance to pose my questions to Alma Whitten, Google’s Product and Engineering Chief of Privacy, but they cut off Q&A just before I got a chance to ask mine. Coincidence? Perhaps. Just as it’s possible that the whole Wi-Spy incident really was an accident.

The whole panel was about technology and privacy, and Whitten spent a lot of her time talking about how Google wants to be as transparent as possible about their data collection practices. But they’ve been anything but transparent about the three years those Street View cars trolled the streets storing emails, passwords and who knows what else. So, if they had let me ask my question, it would have been:

Is Google ready to fulfill that transparency pledge and make full disclosure to the American people about what data they collected from private networks, and how many people were affected?

Since the company has refused to answer that question so far, it’s going to take a Congressional hearing, with CEO Eric Schmidt under oath, to get Google to answer for this incredible invasion of consumer privacy.

I’ll post snowy pictures as soon as I have them.

Watch the animation here.

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