Privacy Project Timeline
Oct. 1, 2008: Consumer Watchdog launches Inside Google Project with video demonstrating privacy concerns about Google’s new browser, Chrome. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ncerhCLi2o0
Oct. 13, 2008 – Inside Google Project begins with letter to Google’s board expressing privacy concerns about Google’s new browser Chrome. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/LtrGoogle10-13-08.pdf
Nov. 16, 2008 – Consumer Watchdog releases video detaining privacy issues with Gmail. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dg7pVFVqMMg
Nov. 18, 2008 – Privacy Project Director John M. Simpson confronts Google Chairman Eric Schmidt at a Washington, DC speech and asks about Consumer Watchdog’s letter to Google. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKybBlEjSyk
Jan. 27, 2009 – Consumer Watchdog calls on Google to cease a rumored lobbying effort aimed at allowing the sale of electronic medical records in the current version of the Economic Stimulus legislation. Google Health would benefit.
Feb. 7, 2009, Google Executive Bob Boorstin tries to get Consumer Watchdog’s funding cut. This is the e-mail exchange between Boorstin and Tim Little, executive director of the Rose Foundation: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/boorstin-littleemailexchange.pdf
April 1, 2009 -- Consumer Watchdog Calls on Justice Department to block Google Books Settlement: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrjusticegooglebook040109.pdf
April 28, 2009 -- First quarter federal reports show Google lobbied on the electronic medical records provisions of the federal economic stimulus act, contradicting the Internet giant’s earlier claims that Consumer Watchdog’s report of its effort was “100 percent false.”
June 3, 2009 --Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Digital Democracy urge the White House not to move forward with the pending appointment of Google’s top global public policy official, Andrew McLaughlin, to the position of Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the White House, saying it would violate the intent of President Obama’s ethics rules meant to end the revolving door between lobbyists and the executive branch. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-groups-obama-google-lobbyists-appointment-technology-post-raises-ethics-rules-q
June 16, 2009 – Google announces it will test offering SSL encryption using the HTTPS protocol as the default setting for Gmail and intends to offer it for all Gmail users. http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/06/https-security-for-web-applications.html
Aug. 3. 2009 – Consumer Watchdog calls for Genentech Board Chairman Arthur D. Levinson to quit as a director of either Internet giant Google or Apple to avoid antitrust violations. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-calls-genetech-exec-quit-either-google-or-apple-board
Sept. 8., 2009 -- Consumer Watchdog files a friend of the court brief urging a federal court to reject the proposed Google Books settlement because it is anticompetitive and violates both U.S. and international law. The brief was filed for Consumer Watchdog by Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, LLP. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/Googleamicusbrief.pdf
Sept. 10, 2009 -- John M. Simpson testifies against Google Books Settlement before House Judiciary Committee.
Written Testimony: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/Judiciarytestimony091009.pdf
Sept. 18, 2009 – Justice Department objects to proposed Google Books settlement. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/DOJbrief.pdf
Sept. 22, 2009-- Publisher and author associations seek to cancel a key hearing in the Google Books case to allow private negotiations with Google over digitizing books online. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/Publishersmemo.pdf
Oct. 12, 2009 -- Former Genentech chief executive Arthur D. Levinson, a member of both Google and Apple's boards, resigns from Google's board.
Nov. 5, 2009 – Google launches “Dashboard” to give users “transparency, choice and control” of user data stored by the company. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/transparency-choice-and-control-now.html Consumer Watchdog says new feature is step in the right direction, but doesn’t give consumers adequate control of their information.
Dec. 28, 2009 – Consumer Watchdog and Center for digital Democracy urge Federal Trade Commission to block Google’s $750 million acquisition of AdMob. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/LtrFTCfinal.pdf
Jan. 12, 2010 – Google announces it will make SSL encryption using the HTTPS protocol the default mode for all Gmail users. http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/default-https-access-for-gmail.html
Jan. 28, 2010 – Consumer Watchdog files friend of the court brief opposing Amended Google Books Settlement. The brief was filed for Consumer Watchdog by Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, LLP. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/Googlebooks2.pdf
Feb. 4, 2010 – U.S. Department of Justice opposes amended Google Books Settlement, saying that while there are improvements, problems remain with class certification, copyright and antitrust issues.
Feb. 9, 2010 – Google launches its new social network, “Buzz.” http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/introducing-google-buzz.html
Feb. 18, 2010 – Attorneys for Consumer Watchdog appear in a federal court to urge Judge Deny Chinn to reject the revised Google Books settlement because it remains anticompetitive and violates both U.S. and international law. Consumer Watchdog is represented by Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, LLP at the Fairness Hearing on the proposed class action settlement.
Feb. 24, 2010 – Noting that the Justice Department is examining Google’s business practices for possible antitrust issues because of the proposed Books Settlement, Consumer Watchdog asks the DOJ to expand its investigation to include whether Google is manipulating search results to favor its own products. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrvarney022410.pdf
April 1, 2010 -- Consumer Watchdog files a Freedom of Information Act request with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy seeking copies of email between Internet Policy chief Andrew McLaughlin and his former employer, Google Inc. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/OSTPFOIA.pdf
April 21, 2010 – Consumer Watchdog writes U.S. Department of Justice to launch antitrust investigation of Google. Says possible remedies should include breaking up the company. Letter to DOJ: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/LTRjustice042110.pdf. Call made at news conference at National Press Club in Washington, DC: http://vimeo.com/11245805
May 17, 2010 -- Consumer Watchdog Asks FTC to investigate Wi-Spy scandal in which Google’s Streetview cars gathered data from private Wi-Fi networks.
May 18, 2010 – The White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer, Andrew McLaughlin, Google’s former top global lobbyist, is reprimanded for ethics violations that were revealed after a Freedom of Information Act Request from Consumer Watchdog for his email.
May 19, 2010 -- Consumer Watchdog formally launches 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.
May 26, 2010 – Consumer Watchdog calls on the state attorneys general to investigate Google’s Wi-Spy snooping in their respective states to determine what state laws were broken. http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/LTRNatAGS052610.pdf
June 2, 2010 -- Consumer Watchdog releases its study, “Traffic Report: How Google is Squeezing out Competitors and Muscling Into New Markets” that shows how Google unfairly uses search to promote its own properties and services.
June 11, 2010 -- Consumer Watchdog backs call for Congressional hearing on Wi-Spy scandal Consumer Watchdog also calls for the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the incident.
July 8, 2010 -- Google’s Wi-Spy snooping could have sucked up and recorded communications from members of Congress, some of whom are involved in national security issues, an investigation by Consumer Watchdog’s InsideGoogle.com finds. Rep. Jane Harman, D-CA, chair of the Intelligence Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee and former member of the Intelligence Committee has at least one wireless network in her Washington, D.C., home that could have been breached by Google. Read the letter to Harman here: http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Harman_Jane-7-7-10.pdf. Read a report about the members’ networks here: http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Driving-Report-v2.pdf
July 22, 2010 -- Consumer Watchdog repeats call for Congressional hearings into the Google Wi-Spy scandal during Congressional testimony about federal agency use of Web 2.0 technology. John M. Simpson testifies before the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census and National Archives of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Written testimony: http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Oversighttestimony072210.pdf
July 27, 2010 -- A significant majority of Americans are troubled by recent revelations that Google’s Street View cars gathered communications from home Wi-Fi networks, and they want stronger legal protection to preserve their online privacy, including a Do Not Track Option, according to a national opinion poll by Grove Insight, Ltd. for Consumer Watchdog. Read Grove Ltd.’s poll analysis here: http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/MemInternetPrivacy-0727101.pdf Read the poll’s topline results here: http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/wfreInternet.release1.pdf
Sept. 2, 2010 – Consumer Watchdog launches Don’t be Evil satirical video lampooning the Wi-Spy scandal, Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s lack of respect for privacy and promoting Do Not Track. http://insidegoogle.com/2010/08/do-not-track-me/
Oct. 27, 2010 -- The Federal Trade Commission’s two-page letter ending its probe of the Google Wi-Spy scandal is premature and wrong, Consumer Watchdog says, and it leaves the American public with no official full account of the Internet giant’s repeated invasions of consumer privacy.
Oct. 29, 2010 -- Consumer Watchdog praises a coalition of state attorneys general led by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal for continuing an investigation into Google’s Wi-Spying scandal in the wake of the Federal Trade Commission halting its probe earlier this week.
Nov. 30, 2010 -- The European Commission opens an antitrust investigation into allegations that Google Inc. has abused a dominant position in online search, in violation of European Union rules (Article 102 TFEU).
Nov. 30, 2010 -- Consumer Watchdog welcomes the European Union’s antitrust investigation of Google and reiterates its call for the U.S. Justice Department to launch its own investigation of the Internet giant.
Dec. 1, 2010 – Consumer Watchdog hosts policy conference, The Future of Online Consumer Protections, at National Press Club in Washington DC. FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director David Vladeck previews FTC staff report on online privacy that calls for implementing Do Not Track. Department of Commerce Administrator for National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Daniel Weitzner previews the department’s privacy report
Agenda, Conference packet, transcript and videos:
Dec. 1, 2010 – FTC Staff issues privacy report offering framework for consumers, businesses and policymakers; endorses Do Not Track. http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/12/privacyreport.shtm
Dec. 12, 2010 -- The Commerce Department’s “Green Paper” about online privacy is an industry friendly document that would perpetuate current failed practices that give companies, not consumers, control of consumer data, Consumer Watchdog says.
Dec. 20, 2010 -- The Do Not Track function proposed in the Federal Trade Commission’s recently released online privacy report must be extended to include smartphones, Consumer Watchdog says in the wake of a Wall Street Journal article showing how applications for the iPhone and Android phones widely share personal data without the users’ knowledge or consent.
Jan. 24 , 2011 -- Consumer Watchdog sends Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) a 32-page report detailing how Google has inappropriately, benefited from its close ties to the Obama Administration, including how NASA’s Moffett Airfield, near Google’s world headquarters, has been turned into a taxpayer-subsidized private airport for Google executives used for corporate junkets. The report, Lost in the Cloud: Google and the US Government, is drawn from records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and interviews. It found that Google’s ambitious quest for influence with the government is starting to pay off. Read the full report here:
http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/GOOGGovfinal012411.pdf. Read the letter to Rep. Issa here:
Jan. 26, 2011 – Consumer Watchdog releases second animated satire, Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington, making the case that CEO Eric Schmidt should testify under oath about Wi-Spy and other online privacy issues. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/video/mr-schmidt-goes-washington
Feb. 10, 2011 – Consumer Watchdog study, Liars and Loans: How Deceptive Advertisers Use Google shows the Internet giant has become a leading purveyor of ads by scammers who prey on struggling homeowners. Consumer Watchdog asks the Federal Trade Commission to stop Google from hosting the ads. Read the study here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/liarsandloansplus021011.pdf. Read the letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrleibowitz020811.pdf
Feb. 11, 2011 – Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA, introduces Do Not Track legislation in the House of Representatives.
Feb. 18, 2011 -- Consumer Watchdog calls on the Federal Trade Commission to create a “Do Not Track” mechanism to protect consumers’ online privacy and adds that such a mechanism must have the force of law behind it. The call was in comments filed about The Federal Trade Commission’s staff report Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers. Read Consumer Watchdog’s comments to the FTC here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ftc_comments021811.pdf
March 17, 2011 -- Consumer Watchdog warns President Obama in a letter about the dire consequences for consumers worldwide of appointing Google CEO Eric Schmidt Commerce Secretary. “Putting Eric Schmidt in charge of policing online privacy is like appointing Bernie Madoff to direct the Securities Exchange Commission.” Read the letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrobama-schmidt3-17-11.pdf .
March 22, 2011 -- Federal Judge Denny Chin rejects the Google Books Settlement. Consumer Watchdog says that Google should finally learn it cannot usurp and exploit other people’s work and information without first asking permission. Read Judge Chin’s ruling here: http://thepublicindex.org/docs/amended_settlement/opinion.pdf
March 30, 2011 – FTC announces Consent Agreement with Google for privacy violations with launch of its “Buzz” social network service. Agreement calls for 20 years of privacy audits of the Internet giant.
March 30, 2011 -- Consumer Watchdog praises the Federal Trade Commission for requiring Google to submit to privacy audits for the next twenty years, but says the Internet giant should also face monetary penalties for its abuses.
April 4, 2011 – Sen. Alan Lowenthal introduces SB 761, Do Not Track legislation, in the California Senate. Consumer Watchdog is a sponsor of the bill.
April 12, 2011 – A coalition of consumer groups and privacy advocates, including Consumer Watchdog, welcomes the bipartisan effort by Senators John Kerry and John McCain to craft online privacy legislation, but said their bill needs to be significantly strengthened if it is to effectively protect consumer privacy rights in today’s digital marketplace.
May 3, 2011 – California Senate Judiciary Committee approves SB 761, on a 3-to-2 vote after a first-in-the-nation hearing Do Not Track legislation.
May 9, 2011 – Sen. Jay Rockefeller introduces Do Not Track Legislation in the U.S. Senate.
June 24, 2011 – Google confirms that it is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for antitrust violations.
June 24, 2011 -- Google announces that it is discontinuing Google Health. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/update-on-google-health-and-google.html
June 28, 2011 – Google launches its new social network, Google+. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/introducing-google-project-real-life.html
June 28, 2011 -- Consumer Watchdog files a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission charging that a virtual currency system called “Facebook Credits” used to play games on Facebook’s social network violates antitrust law. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/cwd_ftc_facebook_credits_complaint-3.pdf
July 6, 2011 -- Facebook revises terms for game developers using its “virtual money,” Facebook Credits, changing one blatant anticompetitive provision in the wake of an antitrust complaint from Consumer Watchdog, but Federal Trade Commission Intervention is still necessary, Consumer Watchdog says.
July 8, 2011 -- Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Antitrust Subcommittee in September, the committee says. The announcement comes after an intensive campaign by Consumer Watchdog to require Schmidt's sworn testimony before Congress.
Aug. 24, 2011 -- U.S. Justice Department forces Google to forfeit $500 million because it allowed illegal drug ads through its AdWords program. Consumer watchdog says the problem of predatory and deceptive advertising on the Internet giant's services continues. Further enforcement action by regulators is needed, Consumer Watchdog says.
Sept. 19, 2011 – Consumer Watchdog releases third online animated satirical video, Supercharge, satirizing Google CEO Larry Page and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt to dramatize Google’s information monopoly and make the case for Do Not Track Legislation. Watch the video Supercharge at www.consumerwatchdog.org/stalkingthesenator
Sept. 21, 2011 – Consumer Watchdog stages “track-in” demonstrations on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. Before Senate Judiciary Antitrust hearing, a troupe of mimes – dressed in white “Google Track Team” suits and wearing Google “Wi-Spy” glasses –track (follow) people around Dirksen Senate Office Building dramatizing how Google is recording everything consumers do on the Internet by tracking Capitol-goers. Consumer Watchdog also follows people around Capitol Hill in a Google-branded ice cream truck and gives away “free ice cream,” to demonstrate that there is no free ice cream and Google’s supposedly free services in fact come at the cost of our privacy. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/google-track-team-covers-washington-dc-during-schmidts-hearing
Sept. 21, 2011 – Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt testifies before Senate Judiciary’s Antitrust Subcommittee. Consumer Watchdog offers written testimony: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/cwdtestimony092111.pdf
Oct. 18, 2011 -- New documents obtained by Consumer Watchdog show that Google cannot meet the security requirements of the Los Angeles Police Department with its Google Apps for Government, a so-called cloud computing system, which was to have provided the City of Los Angeles with an email system for 30,000 employees.
Oct. 31, 2011 – Consumer Watchdog’s John M. Simpson joins W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) Tracking Protection Working Group as an “invited expert.”
Nov. 16, 2011 -- Office of the Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) announces that it shut down 85 online mortgage modification scams that were advertising on Google. The investigation was prompted by Consumer Watchdog’s Liars and Loans: How Deceptive Advertisers Use Google issued in February.
Read the report here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/liarsandloansplus021011.pdf.
Dec. 2, 2011 --Consumer Watchdog calls for a federal investigation into the "Spyphone Scandal", in which software embedded in smartphones surreptitiously tracks users' activities, including their keystrokes and numbers they dialed. The probe should extend beyond the software developer, Carrier IQ, and include operating systems developers like Google and Apple as well as carriers and device manufacturers, Consumer Watchdog says.
Dec. 15, 2011 – Los Angeles Council votes 12-0 to abandon plans for 13,000 law enforcement employees to use the Google email system. Google’s “cloud” based system cannot meet the Police Department’s security requirements.
Jan. 10, 2012 – Google launches “Search, plus Your World.” http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/search-plus-your-world.html
Jan. 13, 2012 -- Bloomberg News reports the Federal Trade Commission is adding Google's new "Search Plus Your World" to its antitrust probe of the company.
Jan. 20, 2012 – Consumer Watchdog calls on President Obama to endorse Do Not Track in State of Union message. Read the letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrobama122012.pdf
Jan. 23, 2012 – Consumer Watchdog says Internet giant Google spent nearly $10 million lobbying federal policymakers in 2012, showing that the company has abandoned its idealistic "Don't Be Evil" roots and has bought into Washington's corrupt "cash and carry" political system.
Jan. 23, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog calls for the EU’s antitrust regulators to block Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility and ultimately issue a formal antitrust complaint against the Internet giant’s ongoing business practices. Privacy Project Director John M. Simpson is in Brussels for a W3C Tracking Protection Working Group meeting. Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltreuro012312.pdf
Jan. 24, 2012 – Google announces that it will combine privacy policies for all its sites and share data across the sites. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/updating-our-privacy-policies-and-terms.html
Jan. 25, 2012 – Consumer Watchdog says online privacy regulations proposed in Europe today that include the concept of a "right to be forgotten" could help provide U.S. consumers with tools necessary to protect their data held by Internet giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft, if ultimately enacted.
Feb. 1, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog calls for a Congressional briefing about Google’s new privacy and data policies to be open to the public and says a closed door-session with the lawmakers demonstrated Google executive’s “hypocrisy.” Read letter to Rep. Mary Bono Mack here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrbonomack020112.pdf
Feb. 2, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog praises European data protection authorities for asking Google to delay implementation of its new privacy and data policies and calls on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to determine whether the new policies violate the terms of Google’s consent agreement with the Commission. Read the letter from Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Article 29 Working Party here: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/article-29/documentation/other-document/files/2012/20120202_letter_google_privacy_policy_en.pdf
Read the Consent Agreement here: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/03/google.shtm
Feb. 13, 2012 – European Union and U.S. Department of Justice approve Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, but vow to monitor how Google will use Motorola’s patent portfolio. DOJ’s decision: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/February/12-at-210.html
Feb. 15, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog asks the House Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee Committee to hold hearings on Google's new privacy and data policy and to call Google CEO Larry Page "to explain his company's disingenuous statements about its supposed commitment to users' privacy.” Read the letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrbonomack021412.pdf
Feb. 17, 2012 – Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer finds that Google is circumventing privacy settings on Apple’s Safari browser, which is used on iPhones and iPads.
Feb. 17, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog calls on the Federal Trade Commission to act against Google for circumventing Safari’s privacy settings and lying to users. Read the letter to the FTC here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrleibowitz021712.pdf
Feb. 22, 2012 -- California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ announces agreement committing the leading operators of mobile application platforms to require privacy policies for applications ("apps"). The agreement is with six companies whose platforms comprise the majority of the mobile apps market: Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research In Motion.
Feb. 22, 2012 – Consumer Watchdog says agreement committing the leading operators of mobile application platforms to require privacy policies for applications ("apps") is a step forward, but in addition “Do Not Track” regulations must be implemented to fully protect consumers.
Feb. 22, 2012 – 36 states attorneys general voice concerns about Google’s new privacy policies. Read the attorneys general’s letter: http://www.naag.org/sign-on_archive.php
Feb. 23, 2012 -- White House issues its privacy report calling fore baseline privacy legislation and a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. Consumer Watchdog influenced the report. When issued in draft form by the Commerce Department, it referred to "Commercial Data Privacy." Consumer Watchdog’s formal comments said that was inappropriate. The final report deals with what is now called "consumer data privacy."
Feb. 23, 2012 – Google announces it will offer a Do Not Track mechanism on its browser, Chrome, by the end of the year. http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-57383362-264/chrome-to-support-do-not-track-privacy-feature/
March 1, 2012 – Google’s new combined privacy policies take effect.
March 26, 2012 – Federal Trade Commission releases final privacy report, Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers. Report endorses Do Not Track, calls for baseline privacy legislation and legislation to regulate data brokers. http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/03/privacyframework.shtm
March 29, 2012 -- Yahoo! announces its websites would honor the Do Not Track header.
April 2, 2012 – Consumer Watchdog calls on Commerce Department to offer Privacy legislation. Read Consumer Watchdog’s comments: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ntiacomments040212.pdf
April 3, 2012 – European Commission opens formal antitrust investigation of how Motorola Mobility is using its patents, possibly unfairly. http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/12/345&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
April 13, 2012 – Federal Communications Commission fines Google $25,000 for deliberately impeding and delaying the Commission’s investigation of the Wi-Spy scandal in which Google Street View cars sucked up communications from private Wi-Fi networks as they traveled streets in more than 30 countries. Read the decision here: http://transition.fcc.gov/DA-12-592A1.pdf
April 16, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog demands that the Federal Communications Commission release an uncensored version of its highly redacted decision to fine Google $25,000 and files a Freedom of Information Act Request to obtain an uncensored copy.
April 20, 2012 – Google releases mostly un-redacted version of FCC decision to fine Google for impeding Wi-Spy investigation.
April 26, 2012 – FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz tells San Francisco area reporters that the Commission has hired a prominent Washington litigator to lead its antitrust investigation of the Internet giant, the first time in at least five years the federal regulatory agency has taken such a step. The lawyer, Beth Wilkinson, successfully argued for the government that Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh be given the death penalty. The move signaled ling the gravity of the government's antitrust investigation against Google. http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_20488270/google-ftc-antitrust-trial-attorney-wilkinson-mcveigh
April 30, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog calls for a Senate hearing into the Google Wi-Spy scandal and urges that a key figure known in a Federal Communications Commission report as “Engineer Doe” be granted immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony. CEO Larry Page should also testify. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-calls-senate-hearing-google-wi-spy-scandal
May 2, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog files a Freedom Of Information Act Request with the Federal Communications Commission seeking all documents related to the Commission’s investigation of the Google Wi-Spy scandal. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-files-foia-request-seeking-all-documents-fcc%E2%80%99s-investigation-google-wi
May 5, 2012 – Bloomberg News reports that the FTC is negotiating with Google over how big a fine it will pay for hacking past privacy settings on Apple’s Safari browser, which is used on iPhones and iPads. Sources say it could top $10 million. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-05-04/google-said-to-face-fine-by-u-dot-s-dot-over-apple-safari-breach
May 16, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog welcomes an investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley, (R-Iowa) into Google’s use of NASA’s Moffett Federal Airfield in Santa Clara County, California, near Google headquarters. Grassley, ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote Charles F. Bolden Jr., NASA Administrator, expressing concern about “troubling allegations regarding the Google fleet of aircraft housed at Moffett Airfield.”
May 17, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog counters Google’s objections to the Federal Communications Commission’s release of detailed documents about the Commission’s investigation of how Google hacked into private Wi-Fi networks and sought broad disclosure of the documents’ contents. Consumer Watchdog has filed a request for the significant documents related to the FCC’s investigation. Google has opposed much of the request, claiming that portions are commercially sensitive or private personal information.
May 21, 2012 -- European Commission finds that Google’s business practices may violate antitrust law. The Commission said it was concerned that Google was favoring its own services in search, copying material from websites of competitors without permission, shutting out advertising competition and placing restrictions on the portability of online search advertising campaigns from its platform AdWords to the platforms of competitors. Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Competition Policy, offered Google the possibility of proposing remedies to the Commission's four concerns “in a matter of weeks.” Otherwise he said the Commission would file a formal list of objections, which could make Google liable for fines of up to 10 percent of its revenue. Revenue last year was $38 billion.
May 21, 2012- California Senate unanimously passes SB 1298 that would allow Google’s driverless cars on California Highways.
May 30, 2012 -- Google’s driverless cars should not be allowed on U.S. highways unless adequate privacy protections for users of the new technology are implemented, Consumer Watchdog says. The nonpartisan, nonprofit group urged the California Assembly to defeat a bill, SB 1298, that would allow Google’s driverless cars on California’s roads unless the legislation is amended to provide adequate privacy protection for users of the technology.
May 31, 2012 – Microsoft announces that its new version of Internet Explorer will ship with Do Not Track turned on by default.
June 19, 2012 -- In an opinion piece published in POLITICO, Consumer Watchdog's Jamie Court and John M. Simpson compare the treatment of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch – who was called before Parliament in Britain to answer for hacking into the private phone records of families – and the kid glove treatment Google CEO Larry Page has received in America after a much larger privacy breach in which the new media giant collected personal information from millions of Wi-Fi networks around the world. Consumer Watchdog called for a Congressional hearing to require CEO Page to answer questions under oath about what he knew and when he knew it regarding "Wi-Spy," Google’s massive invasion of the privacy of home Wi-Fi networks.
June 21, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog sent its “Google Track Team” comprised of mimes dressed in white track suits to follow shareholders as they gathered for the company’s annual meeting in a bid to focus attention on the Internet giant’s online tracking activity. See video here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/video/protesters-focus-privacy-outside-google-meeting . During shareholders meeting John M. Simpson asks Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt about Do Not Track and Wi-Spy. View video of the exchange here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da2v6zHp-Yo&feature=plcp
June 25, 2012 -- Google’s driverless cars should not be allowed on our highways unless strong privacy protections for users of the new technology are implemented, Consumer Watchdog tells the California Assembly’s Transportation Committee. The Committee holds a hearing on SB 1298, the bill that would allow so-called autonomous cars, such as those being developed by Google, on the state’s highways. Simply listing the data the robot cars will collect does not provide sufficient protection, said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director. Committee holds bill over until July 2.
July 2, 2012 – Transportation Committee approves SB 1298 by vote of 13-0 and refers amended bill to Appropriations Committee. Amendment will require manufacturer of autonomous car technology to disclose what data it gathers. This amendment was offered because of privacy concerns raised by Consumer Watchdog, but is insufficient.
July 2, 2012 – Google offers concessions in EU antitrust case, but details are not disclosed.
July 10, 2012 – Wall Street Journal reports Google is poised to pay a record $22.5 million fine from the Federal Trade Commission for hacking past privacy settings on iPhones, iPads and computers using Apple’s Safari browser. Consumer Watchdog filed a complaint with the FTC in February after Stanford University Graduate Student Jonathan Mayer discovered what Google was doing.
July 12, 2012, National Telecommunications and Information Agency of Department of Commerce convenes first “multistakeholder process” meeting seeking to develop enforceable codes of conduct to implement the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. This meeting focuses on “transparency” in mobile “apps”.
July 20, 2012 – Google’s second quarter lobbying spending soars 90 percent to $3.92 million compared to $2.06 million in the comparable 2011 period. For the first six months of the year Google spent $8.95 million. That compares with $3.54 million in the first six months of 2011. It comes close to the $9.7 million spent in all of 2011.
July 25, 2012 – Joaquin Almunia, EU’s Competition Commissioner, says that concessions offered by Google to settle antitrust concerns would be applied worldwide. Details not disclosed but Almunia says, “We have enough clarifications so as to start the process of technical meetings.” Without a settlement Google could face fines of around $4 billion.
Aug. 2, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog opposes the proposed settlement in a class action suit against Facebook for using Facebook users’ personal information in Sponsored Stories advertisements without their consent, saying that deal “is not fair, adequate or reasonable and provides no direct or indirect benefit to class members.” Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter to the court here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/fraley_objection_letter_cwd_8-1-12_v.2.pdf
Aug. 9, 2012 – FTC announces record $22.5 million settlement with Google for violating its earlier “Buzz” Consent Agreement. Deal explicitly allows Google to deny any wrong doing, prompting Commissioner Thomas Rosch to dissent. Consumer Watchdog calls the settlement “inadequate” because of the provision allowing the Internet Giant to deny liability and vows to seek to block the deal. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/ftc%E2%80%99s-225-million-penalty-google-insufficient-without-admission-wrongdoing-consumer-watc
Aug. 13, 2012 – Consumer Watchdog calls on antitrust officials to block Google’s proposed acquisition of Frommer’s Travel guides, saying “there is a fundamental conflict between being a search provider and a content provider.” http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-urges-regulators-block-google%E2%80%99s-purchase-frommer%E2%80%99s-travel-guides
Aug. 13, 2012 – Consumer Watchdog writes Felipe Fuentes, Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, seeking to block SB 1298, the autonomous vehicle bill because a supposed privacy-protecting amendment is inadequate. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-calls-california-legislature-require-consumer-privacy-protections-goog
Aug. 16, 2012 – Assembly Appropriations Committee passes SB 1298.
Aug. 17, 2012 -- Judge Richard Seeborg rejects proposed settlement in a class action suit against Facebook for using its users’ personal information in “Sponsored Stories” advertisements without their consent. Consumer Watchdog has opposed the settlement.
Aug. 22, 2012 – Consumer Watchdog files a motion in U.S. District Court asking that it be allowed to oppose the $22.5 million settlement the Federal Trade Commission has reached with Google because the agreement allows the Internet giant to deny any wrongdoing. Gary Reback and Robert J. Yorio, of the law firm Carr & Ferrell, file the motion in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of the nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group. Read the motion here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ftcgooglemotion082112.pdf
Aug. 23, 2012 -- Citing deceptive and confusing advertising by mobile phone companies concerning data speeds, Consumer Watchdog petitions the Federal Communications Commission to require wireless carriers to disclose actual network data speeds. Read the petition here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/cwd_petition_for_rulemaking_8-22-12.pdf
Aug. 28, 2012 -- U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston grants Consumer Watchdog the right to oppose Google's record $22.5 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission because it allows the Internet giant to deny any wrongdoing. Read Judge Illston’s order granting amicus curiae status here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/illstonorder082812.pdf
Sept. 5, 2012 – Consumer Watchdog says the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to launch a program to measure mobile broadband service performance in the United States falls short of providing adequate protection. Cell phone carriers must be required to disclose data speeds in their advertisements if consumers are to benefit.
Sept. 10, 2012 – Consumer Watchdog calls on California Gov. Jerry Brown to veto a bill that allows Google’s driverless cars on the highway because it does not provide adequate privacy protections for users of the new technology. In a letter to Gov. Brown Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project Director John M. Simpson wrote SB 1298 “is completely insufficient. It gives the user no control over what data will be gathered and how the information will be used.” Read the letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrbrown070912.pdf
Sept. 20, 2012 --Consumer Watchdog urges Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D –W.VA) to block attempts by Google and Amazon to buy control of huge swaths of the Internet by purchasing new generic Top Level Domains through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Read the letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrrockefeller091912.pdf
Sept. 21, 2012 -- The Federal Trade Commission’s proposed $22.5 million settlement with Google for hacking past privacy settings on Apple’s Safari browser fails to include a permanent injunction against violating its “Buzz” Consent Decree with the Commission, one of three reasons it be should be rejected, Consumer Watchdog tells U.S. Judge Susan Illston. In addition to failing to include a permanent injunction the settlement should not be approved because the amount of the penalty is too small and it allows Google to explicitly deny wrongdoing. Gary Reback of Carr & Ferrell represents Consumer Watchdog. Read Consumer Watchdog’s amicus curiae brief here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/consumerwatchdogftcgoog092112.pdf
Sept. 25, 2012 -- The driverless car law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown at a ceremony at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View poses threats to Californians’ safety and privacy, Consumer Watchdog says.
Sept. 26, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog has calls on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to reject applications from Google and Amazon to buy control of huge swaths of the Internet by purchasing new generic Top Level Domains. Read letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltricann092612.pdf
Oct. 16, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog praises the European data commissioners for rebuking Google’s unilateral merging of privacy policies and data across its various product lines and called on the Federal Trade Commission to act to protect U.S. consumers. Read release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-praises-eu-data-commissioners-rebuking-google-merged-privacy-policy
Oct. 21, 2012 Google and Facebook continue to pump money into their Washington lobbying efforts in the third quarter with the Internet giant spending its second most amount in one quarter while the social networking company spent its most ever for one quarter. Go to House Lobbying Disclosures Database here: http://disclosures.house.gov/ld/ldsearch.aspx
Oct. 23, 2012 – Consumer Watchdog’s attorney Gary Reback of Carr & Ferrell files response brief raising the issue of FTC settlement of the Safari hacking privacy breach allowing Google to retaining wrongfully obtained data. Consumer Watchdog is an amicus curiae in the case. Read the brief here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/cwdresponse102312.pdf
Nov. 15, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog urges the Federal Trade Commission to file an antitrust suit against Google and proceed to trial in U.S. District Court. The group says the FTC should break up the company and force it to divest its Motorola Mobility subsidiary. Read the letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resource/ltrftcgoog111512.pdf
Nov. 16, 2012 – Judge Susan Illston approves $22.5 million Federal Trade Commission settlement with Google after hearing in U.S. District Court. Gary Reback of Carr & Ferrell represents Consumer Watchdog. Read her decision here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/illstonorder111612.pdf
Nov. 29, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog calls on Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.VA) to oppose Joshua Wright’s Nomination to the Federal Trade Commission, saying, “We cannot imagine a nominee who is more ill suited to serve as a Commissioner.” Read the letter to Sen. Rockefeller here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/resources/ltrrockefeller112912.pdf
Dec. 4, 2012 – Federal Trade Commission nominee Joshua Wright faces tough questions from members of the Senate Commerce Committee during hearing and pledges to recuse himself from any decisions involving Google for two years. View a video of the Senate hearing here: http://commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Hearings&ContentRecord_id=7b901434-8d5d-43a2-bf82-bcf1f18c758c&ContentType_id=14f995b9-dfa5-407a-9d35-56cc7152a7ed&Group_id=b06c39af-e033-4cba-9221-de668ca1978a
Dec. 6, 2012 – California Attorney General Kamala Harris files suit against Delta Airlines for offering a mobile app that violates California’s Online Privacy Act. Read AG’s news release and complaint here: http://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorney-general-kamala-d-harris-files-suit-against-delta-airlines-failure
Dec. 7, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog praises California Attorney General Kamala Harris for defending consumers’ privacy rights by filing a suit against Delta Airlines for offering a mobile “app” that violates the state’s privacy law. Read Consumer Watchdog’s news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-praises-california-ag-defending-%E2%80%98apps%E2%80%99-privacy
Dec. 12, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog calls for a Senate hearing into Google’s “morally bankrupt” tax policies that force taxpayers “to make up for the Internet giant’s unwillingness to pay its fair share." Consumer Watchdog calls for the hearing in a letter to Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, urging that Google CEO Larry Page and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt be called “to testify under oath and explain their company’s flagrant abuse of the tax code to the detriment of all who play fairly." Read the letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/resources/ltrbaucus121212.pdf
Dec. 18, 2012 -- Consumer Watchdog calls on the U.S. Department of Justice to take over the ongoing federal antitrust probe of Google after the company’s chairman in a news interview equated it with antitrust poster child Microsoft in the 1990s. The Federal Trade Commission appears ready to conclude its 20-month investigation “with no more than a scolding.” Read the letter to Attorney General Eric Holder here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/resources/ltrholder121812.pdf
Dec. 18, 2012 – Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt meets with European competition commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, who heads Europe’s antitrust probe. After meeting Almunia says, “We have substantially reduced our differences. I now expect Google to come forward with a detailed commitment text in January 2013.” Read New York Times article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/technology/google-wins-time-from-eu-antitrust-enforcer.html
Dec. 18, 2012 – In face of widespread criticism Federal Trade Commission is now reported planning to continue antitrust investigation of Google into January despite earlier predictions of settlement this week. Read a Washington Post article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/ftc-under-fire-for-passing-on-googles-search-practices-critics-say/2012/12/18/aec0d708-487f-11e2-b6f0-e851e741d196_story.html
Dec. 30, 2012 – Senate confirms William Baer to head the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. Read Hillicon Valley article here: http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/275175-senate-confirms-ftc-fcc-picks
Jan. 1, 2013 – Senate confirms Joshua Wright’s nomination to the Federal Trade Commission to replace Thomas Rosch. Read Hillicon Valley article here: http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/275175-senate-confirms-ftc-fcc-picks
Jan. 3, 2013 – Federal Trade Commission announces settlement with Google after its nearly two year antitrust investigation. Settlement includes consent decree providing that Google will license Standard Essential Patents on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory or FRAND terms. In a separate letter, but not a consent agreement, Google promised to stop scrapping content from third party sites and give online advertisers more flexibility to simultaneously manage ad campaigns on Google’s AdWords platform and on rival ad platforms. The FTC failed to address search bias. Read the FTC’s news release here: http://ftc.gov/opa/2013/01/google.shtm
Jan. 3, 2013 -- The Federal Trade Commission’s settlement with Google fails to end its most anticompetitive practice, Consumer Watchdog says and calls on the Department of Justice and state attorneys general to press forward to end the Internet giant’s monopolistic behavior in search results. Read Consumer Watchdog’s news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/ftc%E2%80%99s-settlement-google-fails-end-key-abuse-consumer-watchdog-says
Jan. 8, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog calls on Federal Trade Commission to release the 100-page staff report on the 19-month Google investigation as the only way to “restore a modicum of public trust in the Commission’s ability to serve as an effective antitrust enforcer.” Read release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-asks-ftc-release-staff-re port-google-investigation
Jan. 10, 2013 -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris issues recommendations for mobile application (app) developers and the mobile industry to safeguard consumer privacy. Thes report provides guidance on developing strong privacy practices, translating these practices into mobile-friendly policies, and coordinating with mobile industry actors to promote comprehensive transparency. Read the release here: http://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorney-general-kamala-d-harris-issues-guidance-how-mobile-apps-can-better
Jan. 10, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog praises Attorney General Kamala D. Harris for releasing guidelines to protect privacy in the mobile ecosystem and says the key recommendations in her "Privacy on the Go" report should be enacted into law to fully protect consumers. Read release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-praises-california-ags-mobile-apps-guidelines
Jan. 22, 2013 – Lobbying reports for 4th quarter 2012 are due with Clerk of The House of Representatives and Senate Office of Public Records.
Jan. 23, 2013 – Consumer Watchdog says Google and Facebook continued to pump record amounts of money into their lobbying efforts during 2012 with Facebook’s spending soaring 318 percent in the fourth quarter, while Google’s was up 70 percent for the year. Consumer Watchdog calls record spending a cynical bid to buy influence. Read press release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/google-facebook-continue-flood-washington-cash-lobbying-efforts
Jan. 30, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog calls on the Federal Trade Commission to ask Congress to pass Do Not Track legislation because “the self-regulatory effort to design Do Not Track is virtually dead in the water.” Read press release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-calls-ftc-seek-do-not-track-legislation
Feb. 1, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog outlines three priorities focused on consumer privacy that must be emphasized by the next chair of the Federal Trade Commission as Jon Leibowitz steps down from the agency after four years on the job: On Do Not Track Legislation, Data Brokers and 'Wild West' Of Mobile Devices. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/leibowitz-steps-down-consumer-watchdog-says-next-ftc-chair-must-focus-do-not-track-legis
Feb. 25, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog calls on the Federal Trade Commission to act immediately against Google’s most recent privacy violation – sharing users’ personal information with apps developers – and said the penalties for violating a previous consent order should reach into the billions of dollars. Consumer Watchdog also asks California Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate whether Google’s privacy breach also violates California law in addition to violating the so-called “Buzz Consent Order” with the FTC. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-calls-federal-trade-commission-act-against-google%E2%80%99s-app-store-privacy-
Feb. 28, 2013 – Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Richard Blumenthal introduce Do Not Track legislation in the Senate. Read Senate Commerce Committee release here: http://commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=daf20f21-be4a-4b84-bbb1-e271730a8813&ContentType_id=77eb43da-aa94-497d-a73f-5c951ff72372&Group_id=505cc3fa-a767-40f4-8ac2-4b8326b44e94
Fe. 28, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog praises Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W VA) for introducing a Do-Not-Track bill, which would charge the Federal Trade Commission with establishing standards by which consumers could tell online companies, including mobile applications, that they do not want their information collected. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-backs-sen-jay-rockefeller%E2%80%99s-do-not-track-bill
March 12, 2013 – Thirty-eight states attorneys general announce $7 million settlement with Google in Wi-Spy scandal. Connecticut led the investigation. Another provision of the agreement is that Google will make a YouTube video that educates people how to better secure their Wi-Fi networks. Read Connecticut Attorney General’s news release here: http://www.ct.gov/ag/cwp/view.asp?Q=520518&A=2341
March 12, 2013 -- The $7 million deal ending a multi-state investigation of the Google Wi-Spy scandal does virtually nothing to thwart the Internet giant’s repeated privacy violations, Consumer Watchdog says. The public interest group said Google should pay an amount that would affect its profits. “Asking Google to educate consumers about privacy is like asking the fox to teach the chickens how to ensure the security of their coop,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director. “The educational video will also drive consumers to the YouTube platform, where Google will just gather more data about them for its digital dossiers." Read News Release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-calls-meaningful-wi-spy-penalties. View video of Bloomberg Television News report here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/video/google-serial-privacy-violator-simpson-says
March 20, 2013 -- Eleven Internet Companies are pressing European antitrust regulators to take strong action against Google so that the Internet giant's smaller rivals aren't hurt. And what happens across the pond in this case could have an impact on possible antitrust action in the United States. The companies, organized by the British shopping comparison website Foundem.
March 25, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog files a second complaint that the Federal Trade Commission immediately act against Google’s most recent privacy violation – sharing users’ personal information with apps developers -- after new information became available in a letter from Google to Rep. Hank Johnson. Read blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/consumer-watchdog-files-2nd-request-asking-ftc-act-against-google-apps-privacy-violations. Read complaint to FTC here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrftc032213.pdf. Read letter to Johnson here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrgooglejohnson.pdf
April 1, 2013 Google’s Privacy Chief, Alma Whitten, announces she is stepping down. Read Consumer Watchdog blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/googles-privacy-chief-stepping-down
April 2, 2013 -- Google may face fines in the millions of dollars in Europe as six countries open formal investigations into how Google combined its privacy and data policies last year without bothering to seek users' consent. The actions by France, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain come as Google refused to make changes in privacy policies requested by a group of European data protection authorities. Read Consumer Watchdog blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/google-may-face-more-fines-privacy-violations-europe
April 18, 2013 – Google’s Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette says on Google’s earnings report call that the company’s effective income tax rate was 8 percent in the first quarter. Read Consumer Watchdog blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/googles-income-tax-rate-was-only-8-percent
April 19, 2013 -- The California Department of Motor Vehicles must enact regulations that protect safety and privacy in new regulations it is drafting that would cover Google’s driverless cars and other “autonomous vehicles” traveling on California’s highways, Consumer Watchdog says. SB 1298, signed into law last September, directs the Department of Motor Vehicles to write regulations covering robot cars by January 2015. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/california-dmv-must-answer-privacy-safety-concerns-driverless-car-regulations-consumer-w
April 22, 2013 -- A coalition of six consumer and privacy public interest groups including Consumer Watchdog today praise Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W VA) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) for introducing a Do-Not-Track bill, which would charge the Federal Trade Commission with establishing standards by which consumers could tell online companies, including mobile applications, that they do not want their information collected. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-and-privacy-groups-endorse-rockefeller-blumenthal-do-not-track-bill
April 23, 2013 – Senate Commerce Committee, chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, holds hears on the status of the development of a Do Not Track standard.
April 23, 2013 -- Facebook continues its major effort to win friends in Washington, spending $2.45 million on lobbying efforts during the first quarter, a 277 percent increase from $650,000 a year earlier just filed disclosures show. For all of 2012 Facebook’s spent $3.99 million on lobbying, according to records filed with the Clerk of The House of Representatives. Google, after scoring a substantial victory in February when the Federal Trade Commission closed its antitrust investigation with a tap on the wrist, cut sits first quarter lobbying spending by 33 percent to $3.35 million. Read Consumer Watchdog release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/facebook%E2%80%99s-lobbying-spending-soars-277-percent-245-million-first-quarter
April 23, 2013 -- Google apparently is ending an egregious privacy breach involving people who buy apps from its Google Play store using Google Wallet to pay. Consumer Watchdog had filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about Google’s practice of sending personal information about apps purchasers to apps developers. Read Consumer Watchdog blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/google-ending-privacy-breach-consumer-watchdog-targeted-ftc-complaint
April 24, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog demands that Google give straight answers about how it handles apps buyers’ personal information when they buy apps from Google Play, a practice that is the target of a formal complaint from the public interest group to the Federal Trade Commission. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-demands-google-give-straight-answers-about-apps-privacy-data-sharing-a
May 9, 2013 – Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) introduces H.R. 1913, the Application Privacy, Protection and Security (APPS) Act of 2013. Among its co-sponsors is Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH). The bill would require app developers to maintain privacy policies, obtain consent from consumers before collecting data, and securely maintain the data they collect. Consumer Watchdog endorses bill: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-backs-rep-hank-johnson%E2%80%99s-bi-partisan-apps-privacy-bill
May 16, 2013 -- Eight members of Congress send letter to Google CEO Larry Page asking tough and necessary questions about the Internet giant's new wearable computing device, Google Glass. The letter from members of the Bipartisan Privacy Caucusis conservative Joe Barton, (R-TX), says, "As members of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus, we are curious whether this new technology could infringe on the privacy of the average American." Read Consumer Watchdog blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/bipartisan-privacy-caucus-asks-important-privacy-questions-about-google-glass
May 21, 2013 – Rep. Joe Barton (D-TX) becomes co-sponsor of Rep. Hank Johnson’s H.R. 1913, known as the Application Privacy, Protection and Security (APPS) Act of 2013. Read Consumer Watchdog blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/rep-hank-johnsons-apps-privacy-bill...
May 29, 2013 -- Consumer groups on both sides of the Atlantic – Consumer Watchdog and BEUC in Brussels –object to Google’s proposed European antitrust settlement, which relies heavily on labeling Google’s own services and on showing links to rivals in its search results. Read news release here:
May 31, 2013 – Google announces it will not allow facial recognition software on its new computerized eyewear, Google Glass. Consumer Watchdog says announcement is little more than a PR move, as it is keeping the door open for the technology in the future. Read blog post: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/google-glass-wont-allow-facial-recognition-apps-now
June 6, 2013 – Consumer Watchdog’s John M. Simpson attends Google annual shareholders’ meeting to press privacy concerns about Google Glass. Notes hypocrisy of meeting rules that would ban Glass and asks if people will be given right to delete photos and video that was taken without their consent. Watch video of exchange with CEO Larry Page here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/video/pointed-questions-about-google-glass-and-privacy Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/you-cant-wear-google-glass-internet-giants-shareholders-meeting Read blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/googles-page-clueless-when-it-comes-privacy-concerns-about-glass
June 11, 2013 -- A broad coalition of 86 organizations and Internet companies – including Consumer Watchdog, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, reddit, Mozilla, and the American Civil Liberties Union – send letter to Congress demanding swift investigation and reform in light of the recent revelations about unchecked global surveillance of people using the Internet. Read release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-joins-demanding-congress-end-nsa-snooping-internet-users
June 12, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog calls on federal regulators to block Google’s proposed $1 billion acquisition of Waze, developers of a mobile mapping application, on antitrust grounds. The nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group made the case against the deal in letters to both the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. Read release with links to letters here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-urges-regulators-block-google%E2%80%99s-1-billon-deal-buy-waze
June 22, 2013 – FTC is investigating Google’s purchase on antitrust grounds two weeks after Consumer Watchdog urged federal regulators to block the acquisition. Read Consumer Watchdog’s blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-urges-regulators-block-google%E2%80%99s-1-billon-deal-buy-waze
July 16, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog praises the co-chairs of an Internet standards-setting working group for rejecting a proposal from the online advertising industry that would have allowed online services to continue profiling users even when a Do Not Track message was sent. John M. Simpson is taking part in the W3C’s Tracking Protection Working Group as an “invited expert.” Consumer Watchdog formally objected to the ad industry proposal. Read the news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-praises-rejection-ad-industry%E2%80%99s-sham-%E2%80%9Cdo-not-track%E2%80%9D-proposal
July 22, 2013 -- Technology companies continue to pump money into their lobbying efforts during the second quarter, with Google leading the pack spending $3.36 million on its effort to buy influence with federal legislators and policymakers. Microsoft spent $2.96 million in the second quarter, a company record, and up 47 percent from $2.01 million in the second quarter of 2012. Facebook spent $1.06 million, a 10 percent increase from $960,000 in the second quarter of 2012. Read Consumer Watchdog’s news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/tech-companies-continue-pumping-millions-lobbying-google-tops-3-million-facebook-spendin
July 25, 2013 – Department of Commerce’s National Telephone and Information Agency (NTIA) Multi-stakeholder process approves Transparency Code for Mobile Apps. Consumer Watchdog says yearlong effort demonstrates the futility of crafting codes of conduct through a voluntary multi-stakeholder process and the way participants were asked their opinion of the proposed code makes a mockery of the effort. Consumer Watchdog calls on President Obama to propose detailed privacy legislation -- something he called for more than a year ago – if he cares about consumers’ privacy. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/effort-craft-apps-%E2%80%9Ctransparency-code%E2%80%9D-shows-futility-multi-stakeholder-process
Aug. 12, 2013 – Consumer Watchdog points out a legal filing from Google in a class action suit in which it claims people who send an email to a Gmail address have “no legitimate expectation of privacy.” News release prompts worldwide news coverage. Read the release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/google-tells-court-you-cannot-expect-privacy-when-sending-messages-gmail-people-who-care. View a CNN news report here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/video/cnn-google-no-legitimate-expectation-privacy. Read an article from the British newspaper The Guardian here: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/aug/14/google-gmail-users-privacy-email-lawsuit.
Aug. 16, 2013 – Google suffers brief outage late in the afternoon. Internet traffic drops by 40 percent according to GoSquared. Read Consumer Watchdog Blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/google-outage-shows-internet-giants-reach.
Aug. 21, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog joins the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and three other public interest groups in opposing a proposed $8.5 million settlement in a class action suit against Google for privacy violations in the way it handled users’ search data because of at least “three obvious deficiencies” in the proposal. Read Consumer Watchdog’s news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-joins-epic-opposing-85-million-settlement-google-suit.
Aug. 26, 2013 – California Assembly passes AB 370, which would requires a website or online service to disclose how it responds when it receives a “Do Not Track” message. Consumer Watchdog urges Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the bill because it is a step towards consumer knowledge, but adds that ultimately consumers must have the right to simply say “no” to online tracking. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/node/16350.
Sept. 4, 2013 – Google argues before Judge Lucy Koh in Federal District Court that it has the right to read people’s emails and build profiles about them. Read Consumer Watchdog’s blog post about the hearing here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/big-day-san-jose-privacy
Sept. 4, 2013 -- A coalition of six consumer privacy groups, including Consumer Watchdog, calls on the Federal Trade Commission to enforce an earlier consent order with Facebook and block proposed changes in the social network’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and its Data Use Policy because the proposed changes violate the 2011 settlement with the Commission. Read the news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/privacy-groups-urge-ftc-block-pending-facebook-privacy-changes
Sept. 10, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog calls on the European Commission to file a formal Statement of Objections against Google in the nearly three-year-old antitrust investigation of the Internet giant and says Google’s latest settlement offer was an attempt to stall the investigation. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-urges-european-commission-charge-google-antitrust-probe
Sept. 11, 2013 -- A federal appeals court rules that Google’s interception of messages from private Wi-Fi networks is not exempt from federal wiretap laws, opening the way for a class action suit in the Wi-Spy case to move forward with possible damages amounting to billions of dollars. “This appeals court decision is a tremendous victory for privacy rights. It means Google can’t suck up private communications from people's Wi-Fi networks and claim their Wi-Spying was exempt from federal wiretap laws,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director. Read release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/us-appeals-court-rules-google-not-exempt-wiretap-law-wi-spy-suit
Sept. 13, 2013 -- The Pentagon has ended a deal described two years ago by Consumer Watchdog that allowed a company owned by top Google executives to buy jet fuel for a fleet of aircraft based at Moffett Field. The public interest group says the aircraft should be evicted from the facility and an investigation opened to see if laws were broken. [Pentagon stopped supplying on Aug. 31. Suspension was revealed today.] Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/pentagon-ends-sweetheart-fuel-deal-google-execs%E2%80%99-aircraft-moffett-highlighted-consumer-w View CNN news coverage here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/video/cnn-google-loses-nasa-discount-jet-fuel
Sept. 16, 2013 -- Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) quits Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) Do Not Track negotiations. Consumer Watchdog says the withdrawal of a major advertising trade association from a group trying to write a Do Not Track standard demonstrates the need for legislation to protect online privacy, Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/ad-industry-association%E2%80%99s-withdrawal-do-not-track-negotiations-shows-need-legislation-co
Sept. 24, 2013 -- Google’s top executives avoided paying millions of dollars in local property taxes on their fleet of aircraft based at NASA’s Moffett Field, an NBC investigation finds. See the NBC report here: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/tech/Google-Executives-Globetrotting-on-Taxpayers-Dime-224933642.html Consumer Watchdog calls for U.S. Attorney to investigate. Read release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/investigation-reveals-google-executives-dodged-taxes-planes-based-moffett-field-sweethea
Sept. 26, 2013 -- In a seminal decision for online privacy, federal Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, CA., rejects Google's claims that wiretapping laws do not apply to its Gmail business and that consumers who email people with Gmail accounts have no legitimate expectation of privacy. “This is a historic step for holding Internet communications subject to the same privacy laws that exist in the rest of society. The court rightly rejected Google's tortured logic that you have to accept intrusions of privacy if you want to send email,” says John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/gmail-judge-holds-internet-accountable-wiretap-laws-key-consumer-victory. View Al Jazeera America TV report here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/23-us-public-interest-groups-back-european-union-data-protection-regulation
Oct. 16, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog joins the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and three other public interest groups in re-iterating their opposition to a proposed $8.5 million settlement in a class action suit against Google for privacy violations in the way it handled users’ search data because proposed recipients of settlement funds don’t represent the interests of the class. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/five-public-interest-groups-underscore-opposition-settlement-google-privacy-suit
Oct. 17, 2013 -- A coalition of 23 US consumer, privacy and public interest groups, including Consumer Watchdog, write the European Parliament expressing strong support for the proposed European Data Protection Regulation because “we believe that the promotion of stronger privacy standards in Europe will benefit consumers around the globe.” Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/23-us-public-interest-groups-back-european-union-data-protection-regulation
Oct. 21, 2013 – Google submits second proposal to settle European Commission’s antitrust investigation. Commission keeps details of proposal confidential.
Oct. 22 -- Google continues to lead tech firms in lobbying expenses during the third quarter, spending $3.4 million on its effort to buy influence with federal legislators and policymakers, according to disclosure forms just filed with the Clerk of the House of Representatives. “When the government is open for business, policymaking is all about who has the cash and is willing throw it around,” says Privacy Project Director John M. Simpson. Read release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/google-leads-tech-firms-lobbying-expenses-facebook-spending-47-percent
Nov. 6, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog challenges Google to make public its latest proposal to settle the European Commission’s antitrust investigation, or says it will release the proposed deal if the Internet giant won’t. Consumer Watchdog commented on the first proposal and therefore received a copy of the second offer and was asked its opinion of the proposal, even though the settlement offer wasn’t released to the public. “Google claims its ‘mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.’ You do an amazing job of this -- including making public much of what people would prefer be kept private -- except when the information is about Google,” wrote Privacy Director John m. Simpson in a letter to Google CEO Larry Page. Read Consumer Watchdog’s news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-challenges-google-make-eu-antitrust-settlement-offer-public-us-public-
Nov. 6, 2013 -- Google’s latest proposal to settle a European antitrust investigation does nothing to solve the underlying problem of how the Internet giant manipulates results and favors its own services in search, Consumer Watchdog says as it releases the proposal and questions the European Commission is asking about it. Documents detailing the proposed deal were considered confidential by the European Commission. Early today Consumer Watchdog challenged Google to make them public and said it would do so if Google did not release them by the end of the day. Shortly after Consumer Watchdog’s letter to Google CEO Larry Page is made public, The Financial Times in London makes the documents available on its website. Consumer Watchdog says there is no point in waiting for Google to possibly act, once the FT had published the proposed deal’s details. Read the news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/google%E2%80%99s-european-antitrust-settlement-proposal-insufficient-consumer-watchdog-says-grou
Nov. 14, 2013 -- Bipartisan, bicameral Do Not Track Kids bill introduced in Congress by Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and in the House by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) Consumer Watchdog endorses bill but adds that all users of the Internet should be entitled to protection by a Do Not Track law. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-backs-do-not-track-kids-bill-says-all-ages-deserve-protection
Nov. 18, 2013 – Thirty-seven State Attorneys General announce $17 million settlement with Google for hacking around the privacy settings on Apple’s Safari Browser and setting tracking cookies. Consumer Watchdog says settlement demonstrates the Internet giant’s business strategy of doing whatever it wants and then buying its way out of trouble when caught breaking the rules. “Google hacked around the privacy settings on Apple’s Safari web browser, set tracking cookies and lied about what it was doing. Now Google pays the states $17 million, doesn’t even apologize and claims it didn’t break the law,” says John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director. “When these Google guys get caught with their fingers in the cookie jar, they just buy their way out of trouble. If Google cared a whit about your privacy, they would have apologized. They just view these penalties as a cost of doing business.” Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/google-continues-buy-its-way-out-privacy-problems-consumer-watchdog-says
Nov. 25, 2013 -- Google is taking advantage of its monopoly position in search to charge merchants more for placement in Google Shopping, causing higher prices for consumers, a Consumer Watchdog study finds. The group files the study, made Nov. 11 and Nov. 12, with the European Commission as part of its comments on a proposal to settle the Commission’s antitrust investigation of Google. Read the news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-finds-consumers-pay-more-because-googles-search-monopoly View KABC TV video report here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/video/kabc-tv-7-los-angeles-google-shopping-might-not-have-best-prices-consumer-watchdog-says
Nov. 26, 2013 -- Consumer groups on both sides of the Atlantic – Consumer Watchdog and BEUC – file comments opposing a proposed deal to settle the European Commission’s antitrust investigation of Google. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-groups-both-sides-atlantic-oppose-google-antitrust-settlement
Dec. 4, 2013 -- Consumer Watchdog files a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about the deceptive and unfair way Google displays results from its comparison shopping engine, Google Shopping, in its search results. “The way that the Internet giant is featuring results from Google Shopping without making it clear that the highlighted results are nothing more than advertisements for merchants who bid for placement is an unfair and deceptive act, violating Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act,” writes John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director, in a letter to the Commission. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-complains-ftc-about-deception-google-shopping-results
Dec. 11, 2013 – NASA Inspector General finds that a fleet of planes owned by Google’s billionaire top executives based at Ames Research Center’s Moffett Field received an unwarranted discount worth up to $5.3 million on jet fuel purchased from the government. “While this arrangement did not cause an economic loss to NASA or DLA-Energy, it did result in considerable savings for H211 and engendered a sense of unfairness and a perception of favoritism toward H211 and its owners. Accordingly, we recommend that NASA explore with the company possible options to remedy this situation,” wrote NASA IG Paul Martin. Almost three years ago Consumer Watchdog described the deal that allowed H211, a company owned by top Google executives, to base a fleet of aircraft, including a Boeing 767, a Boeing 757 and four Gulfstream V's, at Moffett Field. With the release of the IG’s report, Consumer Watchdog calls for the eviction of the planes from Moffett. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-calls-nasa-evict-google-executives%E2%80%99-planes-after-inspector-general-fin
Dec. 12, 2013 -- The Canadian Commissioner of Competition believes Google has abused its dominant search position and in an ongoing investigation files a document with the Federal Court of Canada demanding more information on the company’s practices. Read IDG News Service report here: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2080680/canadas-competition-agency-takes-google-to-court-in-antitrust-investigation.html
Dec. 18, 2013 -- Google has allowed its social network to become a virtual playground for online predators and explicit sexual content, a seven-month study by a tech industry whistleblower has finds, and Consumer Watchdog calls on the Internet giant “to take immediate action to police and clean up your social network, Google+.” Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/google%E2%80%99s-social-network-playground-online-predators-explicit-sexual-content-tech-whistle
Dec. 19, 2013 – Consumer Watchdog offers advice for consumers involved in massive data breach at Target involving 40 million credit card numbers. Consumers are not liable for fraudulent charges, but they should check their accounts immediately and report any suspicious charges. View KCBS/KCAL TV news report here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/video/kcal-tv-9-los-angeles-ca-40-million-credit-card-numbers-stolen-target-what-you-should-do
Dec. 20, 2013 -- Google’s latest proposal to settle an antitrust investigation in Europe does not go far enough, says the European Union’s Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. Read The New York Times report here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/21/technology/europe-official-is-dissatisfied-with-google-proposal.html
Dec. 22, 2013 – J.P. Morgan Chase imposes limits on debit cards that were used at Target during security breach from Nov. 26- Dec. 15. Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court calls Chase the “Grinch that stole Christmas from families across America,” adding that the realty is that Chase is acting to protect itself “while holding people’s money hostage.” View ABC World News’ report here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/video/abc-world-news-after-target-breach-chase-bank-limits-customers-transactions
Jan. 9, 2014 -- Google cleans up its social network shutting down some accounts of apparent online predators and eliminating explicit sexual content in apparent response to a complaint from Consumer Watchdog. Group says the Internet giant’s Google+ still has a privacy design flaw that must be fixed. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/google-shuts-online-predators%E2%80%99-accounts-response-consumer-watchdog-letter-key-privacy-de
Jan. 21, 2014 -- Google leads in lobbying spending by ten tech firms who pumped a combined $61.15 million into efforts to influence federal regulators and lawmakers in 2013, up 15.9 percent from a combined total of $52.78 million, according to records filed with the Clerk of the House this week. “Policymaking in Washington is all about how much money you can throw around,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director. “These tech guys are increasingly willing to spend whatever it takes to buy what they want.” Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/google-leads-pack-10-tech-firms-pump-6115-million-2013-lobbying-efforts
Jan. 22, 2014 -- Google’s social network, Google+, relies on a flagrant and fundamental privacy design flaw that is an unfair business practice, Consumer Watchdog says in a formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. In addition, the nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group says that the Internet giant’s plan to link Google+ accounts to Gmail, so that a user can send an email to a Gmail account, without knowing the address would violate the “Buzz” Consent Agreement that settled privacy invasions when Google launched its first attempt at a social network. Read letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrftcgoogle012114.pdf
Jan. 28, 2014 – Court documents show Eric Schmidt told an executive to keep discussions of agreement not to hire workers from other tech firms verbal “since I don’t want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later.” Read blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/compare-what-schmidt-says-what-he-does
Jan. 30, 2014 -- Consumer Watchdog insists the European Commission must ‘market test’ a reported new proposal from Google to settle the three-year antitrust investigation of the Internet giant and said any remedy must insist that Google use an objective, nondiscriminatory mechanism to rank and display all search results – including links to Google products. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-insists-eu-%E2%80%98market-test%E2%80%99-newest-google-antitrust-settlement-offer
Feb. 5, 2014 -- Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia outlines third proposed settlement with Google to settle antitrust investigation, but keeps actual proposal confidential. Consumer Watchdog calls the outlined settlement “unacceptable” and says Google’s third Commitment document must be made public. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/eu-settlement-google-unacceptable-consumer-watchdog-says
Feb. 10, 2014 -- Consumer Watchdog objects to the European Union’s College of Commissioners over the antitrust settlement deal with Google that was announced Feb. 5 by the Commissioner for Competition, Vice President Joaquin Almunia. Read the letter letters addressed to the Commission’s Secretary-General and 27 of the 28 commissioners here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-objects-eu-commissioners-about-proposed-google-settlement Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-objects-eu-commissioners-about-proposed-google-settlement
Feb. 10, 2014 General Services Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announce that Google will get control of Moffett Field even though a NASA audit found that the jet fleet owned through a company called H211 by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Co-Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin received an unwarranted discount worth up to $5.3 million on jet fuel purchased from the government. Awarding the contract wrongly rewards the Internet giant’s executives for longstanding abuses at Ames Research Center, Consumer Watchdog says. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/giving-google-control-moffett-field-wrongly-rewards-execs%E2%80%99-longstanding-abuse
Feb. 13, 2014 -- Consumer Watchdog urges Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to press forward with an antitrust case against Google for unfairly manipulating search results favoring its own services damaging both competitors and consumers. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-calls-texas-ag-press-antitrust-case-against-google
Feb 13, 2014 – Comcast and Time Warner Cable announce $45 billion merger deal. Consumer Watchdog calls on the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission to block the deal because it is anti-competitive and not in the public interest. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-asks-fcc-doj-block-comcast-time-warner-deal. View KCBS TV-2 video here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/video/kcbs-tv-2-los-angeles-will-comcast-time-warner-merger-mean-higher-prices-consumer. View KNBC TV 4 video here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/video/knbc-tv-4-los-angeles-comcast-taking-over-time-warner-will-customers-suffer. View KTTV Fox video here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/video/kttv-fox-los-angles-will-google-time-warner-merger-mean-bad-business-consumers
Feb. 14, 2014 – Google tells “Explorers” -- users of Google Glass, the Internet giant’s wearable computing device – that they shouldn’t “Be creepy or rude (aka, a ‘Glasshole’)”. Read Consumer Watchdog’s blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/now-even-google-says-dont-be-glasshole
Feb. 14, 2014 – Google publishes the details of the latest commitments Google made in a bid to settle a long-running antitrust case involving its treatment of rival specialist search services. Read news story here: http://www.itworld.com/internet/405117/google-publishes-commitments-it-made-settle-eu-antitrust-case
Feb. 25, 2014 -- Google's efforts to seal key documents in a class action suit in which the Internet giant is charged with violating wiretap laws when it reads the contents of email messages on its Gmail service demonstrate hypocrisy at the company's core, Consumer Watchdog says. Read blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/court-filings-gmail-case-demonstrate-googles-hypocrisy
Feb. 27, 2014 -- California Attorney General Kamala Harris acts to improve cybersecurtity in the state before new laws are passed. She released recommendations to California businesses to help protect against and respond to the increasing threat of malware, data breaches and other cyber risks. Read Consumer Watchdog blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/california-ag-takes-lead-cybersecurity
March 6, 2014 -- European Commission responds to Consumer Watchdog's concerns about Google antitrust deal. Read Consumer Watchdog’s blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/european-commission-responds-consumer-watchdogs-concerns-about-google-deal. Read a letter from Alexander Italanier, Director-General for Competition here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/watchdog_reply_ares_2014-590726.pdf
March 11, 2014 -- The California Department of Motor Vehicles must enact regulations that protect users privacy in new regulations it is drafting that would cover Google’s driverless cars and other “autonomous vehicles” traveling on California’s highways, Consumer Watchdog tells the DMV. Read Consumer Watchdog news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-tells-ca-dmv-new-driverless-car-regulations-must-protect-privacy. Read John Simpson’s written testimony here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/dmvtestimony031114.pdf
March 26, 2014 -- A proposed settlement in Europe’s antitrust investigation of Google that establishes a monitor for five years to ensure that the Internet giant keeps its promises under the deal, does not actually obligate Google to do anything in response to a request from the “Monitoring Trustee,” Consumer Watchdog says and calls for the “deeply flawed” proposed settlement to be modified. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/proposed-european-antitrust-settlement-allows-google-ignore-requests-monitor-consumer-wa. Read letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrbarroso032614.pdf
March 27, 2014 – U.S. Department of Justice responds to Consumer Watchdog’s letter asking DOJ to block $45 billion Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. Read blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/doj-quickly-answers-our-call-block-comcast-time-warner-deal. Read DOJ letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/simpsonltr032714.pdf
April 1, 2014 Consumer Watchdog tells the White House Team studying the Obama Administration’s policy towards “Big Data” that “people must be able to know what information is gathered about them, how long it is kept and for what the information will be used.” Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-tells-white-house-team-people-have-right-control-data. Read Consumer Watchdog letter to White House here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/whitehousebigdata033114.pdf
April 9, 2014 – Google apparently trying trademark the “Glass,” the Internet giant’s wearable computing device, according to the Wall Street Journal. Consumer Watchdog makes a “modest proposal.” “Google should trademark the word ‘Spy.’ It would apply not only to the geeky wearable device sported by Glassholes, but to virtually every product and service the Internet giant offers.” Read Consumer Watchdog blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/google-should-apply-trademark-spy.
April 14, 2014 – New Google Terms of Service (TOS) take effect, making it clear that the Internet giant reads your content. In the TOS Google claims the right to do whatever it wants with your stuff, even if you quit the service, Consumer Watchdog says. “There can be no doubt: Google snoops on everything you send them, as it makes its way through the Internet giant's computer systems and when it is stored in Google’s cloud, so Google can build digital dossiers about you.” Read blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/googles-terms-service-we-can-do-whatever-we-want.
April 16, 2014 -- The CEO of Europe's largest newspaper publishing company, Mathias Döpfner, charges that Google is seeking to build a “digital super-state” free from the constraints of antitrust regulators and privacy concerns. Read Consumer Watchdog blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/leading-german-publisher-says-google-building-digital-superstate.
April 21, 2014 -- Consumer Watchdog expresses deep concern about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s appointment of Google Chairman Eric Schmidt to the New York Smart Schools Commission to advise the state on how to invest proceeds from the proposed $2 billion bond act and bring technology into classrooms statewide. President Jamie Court and Privacy Project Director, wrote that Cuomo should: (1) Preclude Google from providing any of the new technology to the state’s schools given the conflict of interest created by Schmidt’s appointment. (2) Remove Schmidt from the Commission immediately given Google’s disregard for students’ privacy and the potential for self-dealing. Reade Consumer Watchdog’s letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-calls-gov-cuomo-remove-google-chairman-eric-schmidt-ny-smart-schools-p. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-calls-gov-cuomo-remove-google-chairman-eric-schmidt-ny-smart-schools-p.
April 24, 2014 -- A settlement is reached in the $3 billion class action lawsuit on behalf of 64,000 high tech workers who charged that Silicon Valley tech titans like Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt and Sergey Brin illegally conspired to keep their wages down. Read Consumer Watchdog blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/tech-titans-dirty-linen-wont-be-aired-further.
April 30, 2014 -- Google says it will stop reading the Gmail accounts of 30 million students who use Google Apps For Education. Consumer Watchdog points out the Internet giant spins the announcement as “protecting students,” when in fact the change came only after questions were raised about the legality of the practice. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/google-stops-reading-students%E2%80%99-gmail-after-legal-questions-are-raised.
May 1, 2014 – White House releases Big Data study identifying potential dangers of discrimination and threats to privacy in what the report called “a world where data collection will be increasingly ubiquitous, multidimensional, and permanent.” Consumer Watchdog today backed six broad policy recommendations outlined in the report. Read press release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-backs-6-policy-recommendations-white-house-big-data-report
May 8, 2014 – Federal Trade Commission settles privacy case with Snapchat, which claimed “snaps” would quickly disappear. In fact there were several easy ways that the messages could be saved. Read Consumer Watchdog blog post here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/blog/ftc-settles-privacy-case-snapchat.
May 12, 2014 -- Consumer Watchdog files a formal complaint asking the New York Joint Commission On Public Ethics to remove Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt from the state’s Smart Schools Commission because of conflicts of interest that violate the state’s Public Officials Law. Read news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-asks-ny-joint-commission-public-ethics-remove-google%E2%80%99s-chairman-eric-s. Read formal complaint here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/joint_commission_complaint.pdf.
May 13, 2014 -- The highest European court rules that people have a “right to be forgotten.” The Court of Justice of the European Union says that a person could ask Google to remove data that could “appear to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant or excessive … in the light of the time that had elapsed.” Consumer Watchdog calls decision “a substantial victory for the right to privacy.” See Consumer Watchdog news release here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/consumer-watchdog-praises-eu%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Cright-be-forgotten%E2%80%9D-ruling-privacy-victory.
May 14, 2014 – Google holds annual shareholders’ meeting and announces it will release EEO employment data. Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project Director John M. Simpson attends, asks Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt two questions: 1) To explain how his membership on the New York Smarts Schools Commission is not a conflict of interest. 2) What the impact of the European Court of Justice’s decision upholding the “right to be forgotten” will be on Google. View a video of the exchange between Simpson and Schmidt here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0q7ZvV796E.