The study has prompted a privacy group, Consumer Watchdog, to ask the FTC to investigate whether eight online advertising companies engaged in deceptive trade practices by saying they would delete “tracking cookies” but actually left them in place.
“Connecticut sounds very serious about doing something, doing something more than just a slap on the wrist,” said John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group that has asked for congressional hearings on the issue. Blumenthal “is going to be a junior senator, but he may carry some of this with him to Washington. Who knows, he might be the guy who gets some kind of a hearing” in Congress.
Saying they are satisfied with privacy reforms Google announced last week, U.S. regulators have closed their inquiry into Google’s collection of data from unsecured private Wi-Fi networks through its Street View cars, a decision that was blasted Wednesday by online privacy advocates.
“I’m really incredulous,” said John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog. “What they are saying is the No. 1 and the No. 2 can combine, and it’s not a problem because there is a No. 3 over there that is now owned by Apple. I find that incomprehensible.”
“Here they are just out and out snooping in neighborhoods and spying on people,” said John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, a frequent Google critic who questioned whether Google violated wiretapping laws.
Perhaps the toughest shareholder question came from consumer advocate John Simpson, who asked Schmidt whether Google had agreed to a reported $700 million “kill fee” if Google’s $750 million acquisition of the mobile advertising company AdMob is rejected by government antitrust regulators. Schmidt neither confirmed or denied that number, but predicted the deal would be approved by the Federal Trade Commission, which is expected to rule in coming days.
Google sees an Internet far more crowded with competitors than just a year ago. At least, that’s what the company is telling government regulators. Critics of Google’s dominance in search — Americans use Google for
about two thirds of U.S. searches, and the company has more than 70
percent of U.S. search advertising revenue, and about 90 percent in
Europe — say the expanded list of competitors is an attempt by Google
to paper over its dominance. "I think they are feeling the heat from several serious antitrust
investigations, and that’s reflected in the language they are using in
the 10-K," said John Simpson, of Consumer Watchdog. He argued in a
recent blog post that Google’s statements that it has many competitors
actually proves that "the opposite is actually true" and that "the real
risk to Google’s business is not from competition," but that regulators
in the U.S. and Europe "will act in the interest of consumers and force
the Internet giant to engage" in competition.