Consumer Watchdog’s John Simpson points out that personalized advertisements targeted directly to a specific user, based on user-collected information, can be “a substantial amount” more lucrative than just an anonymous ad. And with all the information Google can collect about your interests from your searches, your Google Docs, and your favorite YouTube videos, they can figure out pretty specifically what ads they should show you. “They are positioning this as streamlining privacy,” Simpson says. “But that’s just PR. It’s all about better targeting for advertisers.”
Last month, The Financial Times reported that Google was blaming Microsoft software vulnerability for the multinational cyber attack it encountered earlier this year. In response, unnamed Google employees said, the company was phasing out the Windows operating system at the company. But, maybe it’s about the money.
The concerns set forth by Microsoft, Consumer Watchdog, and other observers go beyond whether Google gives unfair prominence in search rankings to paid advertisers. Critiques range from “A company such a Google could abuse its search dominance” to “Google is already abusing its search dominance” to push its other revenue-generating services — such as maps, video, and shopping searches — at the expense of competitors.
Consumer Watchdog today formally launched its new Website, Inside Google, to focus attention on the company’s activities and hold Google accountable for its actions. The sites’ URL is http://insidegoogle.com.
Google could announce this week that it will move SSL encryption implemented in Gmail to other services such as search. During the company’s annual shareholders meeting a question on this from John Simpson, an investor who works for Consumer Watchdog, prompted a curt “Do you get the drift of the answer?” from Google chief executive officer Eric Schmidt after Google vice president of search Marissa Mayer replied “stay tuned.” Encryption has moved to the forefront after Google’s admission last week it had collected small pieces of private information people sent through unencrypted wireless networks.
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 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.
In recent months, two heavily detailed, annotated versions of
confidential Google slide presentations — one dealing with competition
issues, the other with behavioral targeting — have been published by a
Santa Monica–based group called Consumer Watchdog. The annotations are
highly critical of Google and seek to rebut the search giant’s
Calls for Genentech Inc.chairman Arthur Levinson to quit either the board of Apple Inc. or the board of Google Inc. are increasing, following on the heels of Monday’s news that Google CEO Eric Schmidt has stepped down from Apple’s board. Consumer Watchdog is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that is also
pushing the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission
to insist on guarantees of user privacy before agreeing to the 10-year
deal between Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo! Inc.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s resignation today from Apple’s board underscored that it when comes to business, competition is thicker than friendship. Meanwhile, a consumer group, Consumer Watchdog, on Monday called on
Genentech Board Chairman Arthur Levinson, who sits on the boards of
Google and Apple, to quit one of them to avoid antitrust violations. In addition to conflicts that could arise from sitting on the boards of
competing companies, Genentech is an investor with Google in the
genetic testing company 23andMe run by Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google
co-founder Sergey Brin.