Calif. Gives Driverless Cars Go-Ahead

Another lingering concern about driverless cars is privacy. The machines will have to collect and store certain information about a person’s movements as part of their basic functioning, as well as to improve their performance over time. Because of pressure from privacy advocates, the law requires manufacturers to provide written disclosures describing the data collected. But John Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project, says that doesn’t go far enough.

FTC Online Privacy Report Lays Out New Standards

John Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project, said the FTC should have called for legislation on Do Not Track as well. But overall the report represents progress on data privacy, he said.

How Google Gets Inside Browsers

The group Consumer Watchdog and some lawmakers asked publicly whether Google had violated last year’s settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission over an unrelated privacy breach. Some tech watchers said that while the company’s actions are certainly questionable, the full extent of the breach probably exceeded what Google had intended to do, as Google itself maintains.

State Senator’s Do Not Track Bill On Internet Data

John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog said it’s still unclear whether any of the federal measures will pass and, in any case, there’s no reason for the Golden State to wait. It could put pressure on federal legislators and regulators to catch up. He noted that a law implementing the “Do Not Call” register, which many see as an analog to “Do Not Track,” passed in California before a federal law was enacted.

Data Show Google Abuses Search Role, Group Contends

Consumer Watchdog continues to push its case that Google Inc. is behaving as an illegal monopoly, releasing a report this morning that alleges the company is abusing is dominance in online search to direct users to its own services.

Google Events Offer a Defense to Criticism

At least one vocal critic of the company said the report overstates Google’s contributions. The company didn’t generate this economic activity so much as facilitate it, said John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog. There were other businesses that connected companies with customers before Google was founded 12 years ago, and the report failed to take into account lost revenue and jobs within those industries, notably media and advertising, he said.

Consumer Group to Call for Google Break up

Consumer Watchdog, the Santa Monica group that’s proving a perpetual thorn in the side of Google Inc., plans to call on the Justice Department to launch an antitrust action against the search giant and seek remedies including a possible break up.

Consumer Group Seeks Google, White House E-Mails

Consumer Watchdog said today it filed a Freedom of Information Act request for copies of e-mails traded between the White House’s Deputy Chief Technology Officer and Google Inc., his former employer. Andrew McLaughlin, previously the Mountain View search company’s chief policy executive, unwittingly revealed his exchanges with former colleagues when the Google Buzz service launched […]

AdMob May Win Big Even As Privacy Debate Rages

It’s these highly personalized capabilities that raise the hackles of
privacy advocates, however. They raise a host of questions about "how
the data is used and manipulated without the consumer understanding,"
said John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog. Those concerns are only
heightened by the proposed acquisition by Google, which he said could
bore deeper into personal information by coupling its rich user
databases with AdMob’s.

Google Does An About-Face On China Policy

San Francisco, CA — In a surprise announcement late Tuesday, Google Inc. said it may turn its back on the huge Chinese market after a sophisticated cyber attack on the e-mail accounts of human rights advocates in the Asian nation. Some have dubbed the country’s censorship efforts, which apply to Yahoo
Inc. and Microsoft Corp.’s search engines too, the "Great Firewall of
China." Users of Google.cn in China generally couldn’t look at images
of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, dig up information about Tibet’s
Dalai Lama or access the Web site for journalism watchdog organization
Reporters Without Borders, according to reports. "While Google
should never have agreed to censor search results in China in the first
place, it is doing the right thing by ending the practice now," said
John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog in Los Angeles. "The company should
be commended."

Smart Phone Apps Can Find You, Follow You

The Center for Digital Democracy and U.S. Public Interest Research
Group filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission last January,
arguing that people should be asked for their consent before their
information can be collected and used for mobile advertising. The
Center for Digital Democracy and Consumer Watchdog have urged the FTC
to reject Google’s acquisition of AdMob, citing both competitive and
privacy concerns.