Privacy and Technology

Privacy & Technology

Consumer Watchdog believes individuals have a right to control their personal information and how -- or if – the data is used by corporations. Consumers should be able to go online, make purchases and use their mobile phones without their every move being tracked and recorded.

As the Internet has become increasingly important in consumers’ daily lives, we have focused our recent privacy efforts on protecting consumers online and in the evolving Internet of things.

We have also worked to stop the premature deployments of renegade technology, such as robot cars, without appropriate safety and privacy protections.  For example, our campaign to expose the problems with “Google glass,” and its intrusive spying in public spaces, led to abandonment of widespread use of the technology.

Consumer Watchdog advocates for greater accountability for online giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon and works to uncover their violations of ethics, social mores and the rule of law. We fight to apply anti-trust, price gouging and unfair completion laws to online companies that increasingly push the lines of propriety and try to reshape our values.

 

Focus Area:

US Senators Markey and Blumenthal Ask Federal Safety Regulators If Carmakers Reported Cyber Security Risks

Washington, DC – United States Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal today wrote the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to ask if carmakers have reported the cybersecurity vulnerabilities in their Internet-connected cars and what steps NHTSA is taking to address the problem.

Report Finds Hacking Of Internet Connected Cars Big National Security Threat

Los Angeles, CA – The nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog has issued a report, with the help of car industry technologists, that finds all the top 2020 cars have Internet connections to safety critical systems that leave them vulnerable to fleet wide hacks. 

The group and experts warn that a fleet wide hack at rush-hour could result in a 9-11 scale catastrophe with approximately 3,000 deaths.  

Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Auto Safety Urge DMV, AG, & FTC to Investigate Tesla for Deceptive Practices After Another Autopilot-Related Death

Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Auto Safety today renewed their call to the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Motor Vehicles to investigate dangerously misleading and deceptive practices and representations of Tesla Motors, Inc. regarding the safety and capabilities of its Autopilot feature.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on Federal Trade Commission to Investigate Amazon For Unfair and Deceptive Spying Practices  

Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog today called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and take action against Amazon for deceptively recording consumers and  their children with its Echo digital assistant. Consumer Watchdog requested the investigation for the second time in two years, following a formal complaint in December of 2017 based on its study that showed Amazon and Google had submitted patents to spy on its customers when the devices were supposed to not be on.

Assembly Insurance Committee Members Vote to Strip Insurance Consumers of their Privacy Rights; Pass “Peeping Tom” Bill to Exempt Insurers From New Privacy Act

Sacramento, CA — The members of the Assembly Insurance Committee voted unanimously today to pass AB 981 and exempt the entire insurance and financial services industries from California’s new Privacy Act.

A troupe of mimes dressed as insurance company mascots tracked lawmakers and lobbyists outside the hearing room to dramatize how the bill, sponsored by Committee Chair Tom Daly, would allow insurers to violate their policyholders' privacy.

Push To Exempt Insurance Companies From California Privacy Law By Assembly Insurance Chair Tom Daly

Los Angeles, CA — Today Consumer Watchdog called on Assembly Insurance Committee Chair Tom Daly to withdraw legislation (AB 981) that would exempt insurance companies and banks from complying with the California Consumer Privacy Act.

The Privacy Act will take effect in January and empowers consumers to prevent their personal information from being sold to other companies, as well as allowing  consumers to sue reckless companies for data breaches.

Consumer Watchdog Counters Tech Lobby Attacks In Comments to Attorney General on California’s Landmark Privacy Act

Sacramento—After last year’s passage of the landmark California Consumer Privacy Act, big tech companies including Google, Facebook, and the Chamber of Commerce are spending big on lobbying in Sacramento and Washington D.C.

Robot Cars On Average Required A Human Takeover Every 14 Miles Driven

Los Angeles, CA — Updated reports required by the California Department of Motor Vehicles from companies testing robot cars on California public roads reveal a fleet-wide average of 1 human takeover for every 14 miles tested, according to calculations by Consumer Watchdog. The number of times a human driver had to take control of the robot car during testing varied widely between companies.  Overall 28 companies including Uber, Apple, Toyota, Waymo (Google) and GM Cruise logged 2.04 million miles in testing and reported over 145,402 disengagements.

State Reports Show That Robot Cars Aren’t Ready For Public Roads

Los Angeles—New reports required by the California Department of Motor Vehicles from companies testing robot cars on the state’s public roads show the technology is not ready to operate without a human who can take control of the car, Consumer Watchdog said today. The disengagement reports reveal how many times a human driver had to take control of the robot car during testing on public roads.