Focus Area

Privacy

Follow a Timeline of our Privacy Project

Consumer Watchdog believes consumers have a right to control personal information about them and how -- or if – the data is used by corporations.

Online, consumers should be able to use the Internet without their every move being tracked so they become targets of advertising or so corporate decisions about them are made without a their knowledge.

In the bricks and mortar world, banks and corporations should be required to get your permission before trading or selling private information such as Social Security numbers or account balances.

Medical databases must be protected so that our sensitive health information does not fall into the hands of health care corporations and drug companies interested in using the information for their financial gain.

As the Internet has become increasingly important in consumers’ daily lives, we have focused our recent privacy efforts on protecting consumers online. Consumer Watchdog has promoted federal online privacy legislation that would include a Do Not Track Me function and has worked to educate consumers about how Internet companies gather and use personal information.  We sponsored a Do Not Track bill in the California Legislature.

Rather than deal in abstract concepts, Our Inside Google Project focused on Google as the company that has come to dominate consumers’ use of the Internet.  

We have attempted to convince Google of the social and economic importance of giving consumers control over their on-line lives. By persuading Google, the Internet’s leading company, to adopt adequate privacy guarantees, we believe its policies could become the gold standard for the industry, improving the behavior of the entire online sector.

The Privacy Project has now moved beyond the focus on Google as we have begun exposing and confronting the abuses of other online companies such as Facebook.

RESOURCES:

Reports

Traffic Report
How Google is Squeezing out Competitors and Muscling Into New Markets
http://insidegoogle.com/2010/06/google-using-search-engine-to-muscle-into-internet-businesses-study-finds-2/

Lost in the Clouds
Google and the U.S. Government
http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/GOOGGovfinal012411.pdf

Liars and Loans
How Dececeptive Advertisers Use Google
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/liarsandloansplus021011.pdf

Google Wi-Spying Hit Congress
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.
http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Driving-Report-v2.pdf

Consumer Watchdog Poll Finds Support for Do Not Track rules
Respondents overwhelmingly express support for privacy legislation; Wi-Spy scandal draws concern.
Results: http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/MemInternetPrivacy-0727101.pdf
Analysis: http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/wfreInternet.release1.pdf

Videos

“How Google’s Chrome Doesn’t Protect Your Privacy”
A look at how Google’s browser, Chrome, violates privacy

 

 


“Google GMail Privacy”
How Google invades Gmail users’ privacy

 

 


“Don’t Be Evil”
Animated video satirizing Google’s Wi-Spy scandal launched with digital ad in NewTimes Square

 

 


“Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington?
Animated satirical video making the case Eric Schmidt should testify before Congress. Was launched with a mobile digital ad in Washington, DC

 

 


“The Case Against Google”
John M. Simpson calls for antitrust investigation of Google at news conference at the National Press Club, Washington, DC, April 21, 2010. Other speakers were Joseph Bial, special counsel at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, who represents myTriggers.com and TradeComet.com.; Simon Buckingham, a New York based Internet and mobile entrepreneur; and Gary Reback, an attorney with Carrell & Ferrell and a founder of the Open Book Alliance.

 

 


“How Google is becoming an anticompetitive monopoly”
Video presentation of Consumer Watchdog’s “Traffic Report”

 

 

Letters and complaints

Letter to Google Board Oct. 13, 2008
This letter began Consumer Watchdog’s Inside Google Project
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/LtrGoogle10-13-08.pdf

Google Executive Bob Boorstin tries to get Consumer Watchdog’s funding cut (Feb. 7, 2009)
This the e-mail exchange between Boorstin and Tim Little, executiuve director of the Rose Foundation.
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/boorstin-littleemailexchange.pdf

Letter to U.S Department of Justice, April 1, 2009
Consumer Watchdog Calls on Justice Department to block Google Books Settlement
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrjusticegooglebook040109.pdf

Consumer Watchdog opposes Google Books Settlement, Sept. 7, 2009
Friend of the court brief argues against deal
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/Googleamicusbrief.pdf

Consumer Watchdog, Center for Digital Democracy oppose AdMob deal
Joint letter to Federal Trade Commission says $750 million Acquisition by Google should be blocked
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/LtrFTCfinal.pdf

Consumer Watchdog Urges Court to Reject Amended Google Books Deal
Friend of court brief argues settlement continues to steal from absent class members and remains anticompetitive
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/Googlebooks2.pdf

Consumer Watchdog asks U.S. Justice Department to launch Antitrust action against Google, April 21, 2010
Remedies could include possible break of Internet giant
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/LTRjustice042110.pdf

Consumer Watchdog Asks FTC to investigate Wi-Spy scandal, May 17, 2010
Google’s Streetview cars gathered data from private Wi-Fi networks
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/LTRFTC051710.pdf

White House Reprimands Ex-Googler, May 18, 2010

Freedom of Information Act request from Consumer Watchdog shows inappropriate email communication by Andrew McLaughlin, Deputy Chief Technology Officer
http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/McLaughlin1.pdf
http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/McLaughlin2.pdf
http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/McLaughlin3.pdf

Consumer Watchdog asks state attorneys general to investigate Wi-Spy, May 26, 2010
Letter to National Association of Attorneys General asks AGs to investigate in their respective states
http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/LTRNatAGS052610.pdf

Consumer Watchdog asks White House Counsel to rule administration must distance itself from Google, June 24, 2011
Executives should not attend White House functions while company is under federal investigation
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrruemmler062311.pdf

Consumer Watchdog asks FTC to probe Facebook Credits, June 28, 2011
Credits Used In Online Games Violate Antitrust Law
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/cwd_ftc_facebook_credits_complaint-3.pdf

Testimony

John M. Simpson testifies against Google Books Settlement before House Judiciary Committee, Sept. 10, 2009
Written Testimony: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/Judiciarytestimony091009.pdf
Video: http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/hear_090910.html

John M. Simpson raises concerns about consumers’ privacy when government agencies use Web 2.0 technology, before House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census and National Archives. July 22, 2010
Written testimony: http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Oversighttestimony072210.pdf
Video: http://oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=803%3A06-24-2010-information-policy-qgovernment-20-how-federal-agencies-use-social-media-and-other-web-20-technologiesq&catid=14&Itemid=3

Conferences

The Future of Online Consumer Protections, A Consumer Watchdog Policy Conference, Washington, DC, Dec. 1, 2010
Agenda, Conference packet, transcript and videos
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/consumer-watchdog-policy-conference