Consumer watchdog groups say a draft congressional bill falls short of its proclaimed intention of protecting the privacy of consumers using the Internet. During a conference call with reporters Tuesday, the groups said they would push for changes to the bill.
With behavioural targeting and privacy becoming hot internet issues, a coalition of consumer and privacy advocacy groups is taking their fight for online rights to Capitol Hill. The sizeable coalition – its members are Consumer Action, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Privacy Lives, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, US Public Interest Research Group and the World Privacy Forum – says industry self-regulation has not provided meaningful consumer protection and legislation is needed.
An independent consumer group will today call on the Department of Justice to consider breaking Google up because of uncompetitive practices. Consumer Watchdog says the $23 billion corporation, which holds more than 70 percent of the search market, has a stranglehold on the market.
Privacy advocates. The Federal Trade Commission. The Chinese government. They’ve all been on Google’s back recently. And it seems the company is now on Consumer Watchdog’s blacklist as well. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based consumer advocacy group is lobbying the U.S. Department of Justice to begin an antitrust investigation into the search giant. In fact, the argument has also been made that the company may need to be broken up.
The Internet giant has tweaked the sign-up process to make the
opt-out option clearer and made it easier to block people from
"Google shows continued tone deafness to the very important privacy
rights of consumers," John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog said.
Indeed, privacy advocates, such as John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, argued Google’s gesture with Dashboard was just a straw man and that if the company really wanted to help it would allow users to prevent search information from being logged or to prevent Google from tracking a user’s online activity while surfing the Web.
The advocacy group Consumer Watchdog,
which has been critical of the amount of personal data Google stores,
called the dashboard a small step in the right direction. "If
Google really wanted to give users control over their privacy it would
give consumers the ability to be anonymous from the company and its
advertisers in crucial areas such as search data and online behavior,"
spokesman John M. Simpson said on the group’s Web site. "The Dashboard
give the appearance of control without the actual ability to prevent
Google from tracking you and delivering you to its marketers."
Google Inc. will announce a feature tomorrow that will give users more
control over their online privacy, according to a consumer advocate who
discussed the matter with the company. John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog hasn’t reviewed Google Dashboard yet,
because he refused to sign a nondisclosure agreement. But attorneys for
the Mountain View search giant informed him the new feature would be
unveiled on Thursday, he told The Chronicle.
That Google can still be surprised by privacy concerns is in itself
surprising and suggests the company ought to approach privacy more
proactively. Google would benefit from doing so because greater attention to privacy
would defang its foes.
The resignation of Google’s Eric Schmidt as a director of Apple’s board
has failed to halt a government inquiry into possible antitrust
Mr. Schmidt stepped down because the search giant’s business increasingly competes with Apple’s. Former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson still serves on both boards. Consumer Watchdog has called for him to step down from either Google or Apple to avoid antitrust violations.
After Google unveiled new features to its search results yesterday, one
analyst is saying that the company’s leadership position has become
virtually unshakable. Google’s name is increasingly coming up in antitrust discussions, and there are signs that regulators are considering whether it is a monopoly. A presentation outlining reasons Google is not monopolistic surfaced on Consumer Watchdog last week.
Washington, DC — Consumer Watchdog has sent to the U.S. Justice
Department a Google document presenting the best corporate arguments
for why Google should not be viewed as monopolistic, along with a
duplicate of the presentation marked up with comments from an expert
countering the claims. The nonprofit consumer group received both
documents from an anonymous industry insider.