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Consumer Watchdog’s Mimes Invade Mountain View Before Google Shareholders Meeting As Its “Track Team” Focuses Attention On Google’s Online Tracking

CONTACT: , 310-292-1902; or Carmen Balber, 202-629-3043; or Jamie Court, 310-392-0522, x327

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm

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Consumer Watchdog’s Mimes Invade Mountain View Before Google Shareholders Meeting As Its “Track Team” Focuses Attention On Google’s Online Tracking

Group Plans To Ask Google Executives What They Knew About Wi-Spy

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – Consumer Watchdog today sent its “Google Track Team” comprised of mimes dressed in white track suits to follow shareholders as they gathered for the company’s annual meeting in a bid to focus attention on the Internet giant’s online tracking activity.

A shareholder representing the public interest group will ask Google CEO Larry Page and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt during the shareholders meeting what they knew about Google’s Wi-Spy privacy violations and when they knew it.

The planned action before the meeting was meant to focus attention on Google’s online tracking activity and dramatize the need for the implementation of a Do Not Track mechanism so consumers can tell websites that don’t want their online activity tracked as they surf the web.

The mimes dressed as the “Google Track Team” in white tracksuits with the “Don’t Be Evil” motto and wore Google “Wi-Spy” glasses.  They planned to track (follow) Google employees and shareholders as they checked in for the meeting and waited to be transferred by shuttle bus to Google headquarters.

“Tracking people in the real world is stalking. It’s creepy,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project director. “When Google and other Internet companies follow your every move online, it’s just as creepy, but most people don’t realize it’s happening. In fact, it’s Google’s business model. That’s why consumers need a way to stop being tracked when they surf the web.”

Consumer Watchdog will live-stream video of the mimes in action here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/consumer-watchdog.

Google will videocast the annual meeting here: https://www.youtube.com/googleir.

Consumer Watchdog called on Google to fulfill its pledge to implement Do Not Track on its Chrome browser and to honor the Do Not Track message on its websites.   The group said Do No Track means do not collect data, not simply do not target ads.  It called on Google to honor the do not collect approach.

The Wi-Spy scandal erupted two years ago when it was revealed that Google’s Street View cars were sucking “payload data” – emails, passwords, health information, banking information and other data – from millions of private Wi-Fi networks in 30 countries around the world. Google first said it didn’t gather payload data, then it said it had done so by mistake and then it said it was the work of rogue engineer.  Recently a Federal Communications Commission investigation revealed that design documents for the Street View project discussed plans for “war driving” and gathering data from Wi-Fi networks.  The FCC fined Google $25,000 for obstructing it investigation.

“It’s imperative that we know what role Page and Schmidt played in this massive invasion of privacy. What did they know and when they know it?” said Simpson. “I plan to ask them.”

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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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