Signs that Google will soon face strong antitrust action on both sides of the Atlantic are increasing with a report Thursday from Bloomberg News Service that the the Federal Trade Commission staff has recommended that the Internet giant be sued for unfairly blocking competitors’ access to smartphone-technology patents.
News broke over the weekend that Federal Trade Commission staff is calling for the Commission to bring an antitrust case against Google for abusing its dominance in search, an action Consumer Watchdog first called for more than two years ago.
“It is clear that we do need better protection of vulnerable networks,” John Simpson, consumer advocate at Consumer Watchdog, told TechNewsWorld. “Congress was unable to act, so I suppose the Administration is taking steps.” He cautioned, however, that he had not seen a copy of the draft order.
SANTA MONICA, CA – The Obama Administration’s blueprint to protect online privacy with a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” unveiled today could provide meaningful protections, Consumer Watchdog said, but warned that the test of its effectiveness will come as the implementation unfolds. The nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group also voiced a concern that an announced Internet industry commitment to honor “Do Not Track” could be aimed at undercutting an effort by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to create a strict Do Not Track standard.
“Google falsely told Safari users that they could control the collection of data…when in fact Google was circumventing the preference,” wrote John Simpson, the privacy-project director with the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog. Another advocacy group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, also made similar charges.
Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic have cleared Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, but are vowing to keep a close eye on the Internet giant’s behavior after the deal goes through.
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.”
The announcement of the changes sparked concern among privacy watchdogs both in the United States and the European Union. “Consumers’ online privacy is being eroded,” growled John Simpson, a consumer advocate at Consumer Watchdog.
“This study proves that personally identifiable information is regularly shared without consumers’ knowledge,” Consumer Watchdog’s John Simpson told a forum on Tuesday. “We can’t rely on industry promises to protect consumer privacy; clearly, we need do-not-track legislation, and we need it now.”
Noting (as I did on Monday) that Schmidt had basically recanted his contrite testimony before Congress in basically calling the government slow and stupid in a Washington Post interview, Consumer Watchdog said in a letter to Senate chairman Herb Kohl that Schmidt should be recalled to testify by the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee…
Washington, DC – Consumer Watchdog today took Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt to task today over remarks made to The Washington Post in which he claimed Google should not be the subject of antitrust review because its services are “free” and made derogatory remarks about government officials being slow, backward and greedy.
Consumer Watchdog says that privacy and Google’s ability to pry into the lives of anyone is a growing concern among the public. Colleague Jay Greene wrote that this week the group’s primary concern is that Google is gathering a huge trove of personal information, much of it without consumers’ knowledge and consumers are powerless to stop it.
WASHINGTON, DC – Consumer Watchdog today told a Senate committee that Google’s reach is so pervasive on the Internet that consumers cannot avoid its massive data collection apparatus. The public interest group said one possible remedy is breaking up the Internet giant, which exercises monopoly power over search and consumer data. Do Not Track regulations are necessary to protect consumers from the Internet giant’s pervasive data collection.