“An important consensus is emerging on the need to take significant steps to protect online privacy rights,” says John Simpson, spokesman for the non-profit Consumer Watchdog advocacy group.
“The real question is how much influence companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook will have in their inevitable attempt to water down the rules that are implemented and render them essentially meaningless,” says John Simpson, spokesman for Consumer Watchdog. ” I am skeptical about the ‘multi-stakeholder process’, but am willing to make a good faith effort to try it.
“Your investigation into Google’s practices that affect millions of Americans should be public,” John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project, wrote in this letter to Mack. “There is a substantial irony in a secret briefing from a company that claims its mission is to organize the world’s information and make it more accessible.”
“What these unilateral decisions by Google and Facebook demonstrate is a complete disregard for their users’ interests and concerns,” says John Simpson, spokesman for Consumer Watchdog. “It’s an uncommonly arrogant approach not usually seen in business, where these companies believe they can do whatever they want with our data, whenever and however they want to do it.”
John Simpson, spokesman for the non-profit Consumer Watchdog advocacy group says “the Europeans have exactly the right approach. They are asking that a consumer must be given the right to opt in before a cookie is placed.” Simpson says the IAB’s icon alert mechanism is “mostly window dressing.” He says if European regulators do end up imposing a strict opt-in rule across Europe, Google, Facebook and the other data aggregators and ad networks will be forced to comply to do business in Europe.
The non-profit advocacy group Consumer Watchdog is calling for federal regulators to take a closer look at home loan, credit repair and health products ads that rely on Google’s AdWords technology to saturate the Internet with dubious advertising claims. That comes after the U.S. Department of Justice today hit Google with a $500 million sanction for enabling AdWords ads promoting illegal pharmaceutical drugs.
Google has been widely known to scan the contents of Gmail messages to deliver targeted text ads. While some don’t mind, others believe scanning e-mail to deliver more relevant ads is an invasion of privacy. John Simpson, spokesman for the non-profit advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, isn’t convinced the search giant will necessarily stop there. “Part of the problem is that Google collects and stores tremendous amounts of data about its users,” Simpson says. “The only assurance we have about what Google’s intentions are boils down to ‘Trust us.'”
Consumer Watchdog has been clamoring for Schmidt’s sworn testimony before Congress for over a year, ever since Germany caught Google harvesting private Wi-Fi data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks in homes and businesses across the globe. Google had dispatched fleets of specially equipped cars through city streets in 30-plus nations to gather this data.
John Simpson, spokesman for Consumer Watchdog, notes that the FCC is continuing an investigation into Google’s past practice of sending fleets of specially equipped vehicles criss-crossing city streets in 30-plus nations to take photos for its mapping service — and to collect data from Wi-Fi systems in homes and businesses.
“Much of Google’s privacy problems stem from the company’s culture,” says John Simpson, spokesman for the non-profit Consumer Watchdog. “They hire like-minded engineers who push the creepy line, then apologize when they get caught with their fingers in the cookie jar.”
“Apple needs to do a lot more to explain what it has been doing and why, and a good start would be for Steve Jobs to appear at the hearing,” says John Simpson, spokesman for Consumer Watchdog.
Data flowing through the Web have translated into a candy store for criminals. It’s easier than ever for even low-skilled hackers to spread infections via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter postings and corrupted Google search results — and take full control of Web-connected PCs. And those risks are intensifying with rising use of smartphones and mobile devices to access the Web. “A smartphone is more appropriately called a spyphone,” says John Simpson, spokesman for Consumer Watchdog, a non-profit advocacy group. “The mobile world is like the wild west.”
John Simpson, spokesman for non-profit advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, says Schmidt “has put his foot so far in his mouth, so frequently, about privacy that it got him kicked upstairs.” Adds Simpson: “Larry Page stepping in as CEO is a great step, if he remembers where he came from and what the company stood for when he co-founded it.”