John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project commented on the news, “A top Google executive will finally face serious questioning about the company’s behavior.”
In January, Consumer Watchdog released a report that detailed the range of the federal government’s current contracts with Google. The amount of cash the group found is only $40 million, a tiny amount compared to Google’s annual revenue of almost $30 billion. But the contracts give the company a competitive edge in key emerging markets, as well as highlight the deepening relationship between Google and the Obama administration — and the conflicts of interest that could potentially arise.
Next week will be a busy one in Washington for online privacy as at least two bills are expected to be introduced in the House. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA, plans to offer a Do Not Track legislation and Rep. Bobby Rush, D- Il, is expected to re-introduce his online privacy bill. There’s activity outside Congress as well.
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.
Federal Trade Chairman Jon Leibowitz, writing in U.S. News & World Report this week, offers one of the clearest explanations I’ve seen of why consumers need a Do Not Track Me function to protect their privacy as they surf the Web.
Google’s campaign for federal government cloud computing contracts came to Capitol Hill today with a top executive telling the House government oversight committee hearing that cloud computing is more secure than current agency-hosted information services.
As the Obama administration pushes ahead with plans to adopt cloud computing, Congress is pushing back with questions. Google is a leading proponent of cloud computing, where most applications and data are on remote servers and accessed from a PC via the Internet.
Privacy advocates argue that the bill’s exemption for “operational” collection of data–allowing those practices to take place under an “opt-out” rule–gives advertisers far too much leeway. “This bill really adopts an archaic and bankrupt ‘notice and consent’ regime that we all know doesn’t’ work,” says John Simpson, head of the Google Privacy and Accountability project at Consumer Watchdog.
“While the discussion has started on this privacy issue because of this bill, I can’t really say very much good about it,” John Simpson from Consumer Watchdog later said on the call. “This bill really adopts and endorses an archaic, bankrupt notice-and-consent regime that we all know does not work.”
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.
The quest for comprehensive, federal privacy legislation has been on many a lawmakers’ wish list for years, and two House members took the next step this week with the release of draft legislation that would require opt-in access to sensitive online data, an expectation of privacy regarding third-party apps, and easily accessible privacy practices. Consumer groups, however, said the bill does not do enough and criticized provisions that would prevent stronger state laws or individual lawsuits.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Warning that “tracking and targeting of consumers online have reached alarming levels,” a coalition of 11 consumer and privacy advocacy organizations today sent a letter to Congress outlining the protections any online privacy legislation must include.