Consumer Watchdog To President Obama: Tapping Google CEO For Commerce Secretary, Obama’s Voice On Privacy, Is Like Appointing Madoff To Head SEC

Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Consumer Watchdog To President Obama: Tapping Google CEO For Commerce Secretary, Obama’s Voice On Privacy, Is Like Appointing Madoff To Head SEC

    Washington, DC — Consumer Watchdog warned President Obama in a letter today about the dire consequences for consumers worldwide of appointing Google CEO Eric Schmidt Commerce Secretary.

    “Mr. Schmidt’s views on privacy, antitrust issues, workers rights and commercial growth are inimical to the ethical customs, social mores and rules of law the American people have demanded of their leaders,” Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court and Privacy Project Director John M. Simpson wrote in the letter.

    Read the letter here:

    “Reckless data mining in pursuit of profit is how Mr. Schmidt became a billionaire, but it should not be the official policy of the Commerce Department, which is the federal agency charged with establishing and executing the Administration’s official online privacy policies,” the consumer advocates wrote. “Putting Eric Schmidt in charge of policing online privacy is like appointing Bernie Madoff to direct the Securities Exchange Commission.

    “Google under Mr. Schmidt’s stewardship has proved it is willing to help any kind of advertiser regardless of whatever they are peddling. For example, a recent Consumer Watchdog report found that Google continued to make money from predatory lending advertisements for products that are illegal in the United States. Internationally, the goal of the Commerce Department should not be the type of economic growth that exploits new online consumers in the developing world to sell them products that would be illegal America because we have higher standards.

    “Mr. Schmidt’s appointment would send the wrong signal to the world about our commercial intentions. Exporting technology is not the same as exploitation of personal data on a global basis. This should not be the model for American commerce or democracy.”

    Consumer Watchdog noted in the letter:

    “Google’s business model is the exploitation of personal information and data so that consumers can be targeted with advertising for the commercial gain of the corporation.  As you may know, 96% of Google’s revenue is from online advertising.  In recent years, Mr. Schmidt has made some outrageous statements that show his view of commerce is to allow corporations to run roughshod over the privacy rights of citizens in the pursuit of advertising dollars.

    “For instance, Mr. Schmidt has said:

    “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

    “We know where you are, we know where you have been, we can more or less know what you are thinking about.

    “There is what I call the creepy line. The Google Policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.

    “These are terribly inappropriate positions for an emissary of American commerce and trade.”

    Court and Simpson also cited Google’s high profile privacy scandals and anti-competitive practices under Mr. Schmidt’s leadership.

    Consumer Watchdog has been working to protect consumers’ online privacy rights and educate them about the issues through its Inside Google Project ( The goal has been to convince Google of the social and economic importance of giving consumers control over their online lives. By persuading Google, the Internet’s leading company, to adopt adequate guarantees, its policies could become the gold standard for privacy for the industry, potentially improving the performance of the entire online sector.

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    Consumer Watchdog, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, CA.  Consumer Watchdog’s website is Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website:

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