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New Times Square ad targets Google for failure to debate privacy

SANTA
MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog has placed a digital advertisement in
Times Square calling Internet giant Google “chicken” for its failure to
accept the public interest group’s challenge to debate measures to
protect consumers’ online privacy. The ad is running during “AdWeek” in
New York City, at which Google has a major presence.

“Why won’t Google debate your privacy with Consumer Watchdog?” the
Jumbotron ad asks. It then displays an image of a chicken labeled with
Google’s logo. Another frame of the ad reads, “Google = chicken.”

View a video of the 30-second advertisement here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtictQbYYQ8

“Google’s executives are discussing new frontiers of ad exploitation in
presentations at New York AdWeek and sponsoring political discussions at
Washington events, but they won’t engage in a meaningful discussion of
the company’s most fundamental issue: online privacy,” said Jamie Court
president of Consumer Watchdog, and author of The Progressive’s Guide To Raising Hell (Chelsea Green, September 2010). “What is Google afraid of?”

New York Adweek is a week-long series of more than 200 different
events focusing on the advertising industry.  Google itself has recently
erected a billboard in Times Square to promote the company’s display
advertising.

Consumer Watchdog has invited Google to participate in a conference,
“Google, The Internet And The Future,” that the nonpartisan, nonprofit
public interest group plans to host in Washington.  Consumer Watchdog
has offered to coordinate with Google to schedule the event at time
convenient for the company.

“Google is essential to any discussion of online privacy,” said John
M. Simpson, director of the group’s Inside Google Project. “We intend to
be as flexible as possible to ensure Google’s participation.”

Earlier this month Consumer Watchdog launched an animated video,
“Don’t Be Evil?” with an ad on a Jumbotron in New York’s Times Square
that was intended to focus attention on Google’s online privacy policies
and build support for “Do Not Track Me” legislation to protect
consumers online.  Since the satirical video was launched, it has been
viewed more than 355,000 times. View the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ouof1OzhL8k

As part of the campaign, Consumer Watchdog sought to buy ads criticizing
Google through its AdWords program.  Initially the ads were rejected,
according to Google, for this reason: “Trademark in Ad Text.” However,
after Consumer Watchdog wrote a letter to CEO Eric Schmidt arguing that
because of its dominance over the Internet Google “has a moral
obligation to let critics communicate with Internet users via Google
search,” the company switched its position and ran the ads.

Consumers must have control over their personal information, Consumer
Watchdog said. The group has called on Google to offer a
“make-me-anonymous” button prominently on its home page that allows
users’ online activity not to be tracked if they wish.

The group has also called for “Do Not Track Me” legislation that
would prevent companies from gathering personal information online, just
as Congress had the Federal Trade Commission created a Do Not Call list
to prevent intrusive telemarketers from invading consumers’ privacy.

Privacy protection is overwhelmingly popular. 80% of Americans
support a ‘Do Not Track Me’ list according to a Consumer
Watchdog-sponsored national poll conducted in July by Grove Insight. 90%
said that it is important to “have more laws that protect privacy of
your personal information” online. The poll found strong support for a
variety of Internet privacy protections:

–Require the creation of an “anonymous button” that allows
individuals to stop anyone from tracking their online searches or
purchases: 86% favor; 9% oppose.

– Ban the collection of any personal data on children under the age of 18:  84% favor; 10% oppose.

– Prevent online companies from tracking personal information or web
searches without your explicit, written approval: 84% favor; 11% oppose.

– Ban online companies from tracking and storing information related
to children’s online behavior so they can target them with advertising:
 83% favor; 12% oppose.

– Require the creation of a “do not track me” list for online
companies that would be administered by the Federal Trade Commission:
80% favor; 12% oppose.

Read the poll’s topline results here:
http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/wfreInternet.release1.pdf

Read Grove Ltd.’s poll analysis here:
http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/MemInternetPrivacy-0727101.pdf

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Consumer Watchdog, formerly the
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a nonprofit, nonpartisan
consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa
Monica, Ca.  Consumer Watchdog’s website is www.ConsumerWatchdog.org. Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website: http://insidegoogle.com