Watchdog Group Takes Google to Task in Times Square
The group has purchased advertising space on a 540 sq ft Jumbotron in Times Square and they’re using it to blast Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt. The animated feature is called “Don’t be Evil?” and shows cartoon Schmidt spying on children from the innocent trappings of an ice cream truck.
In a press release, Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog said;
“We’re satirizing Schmidt in the most highly trafficked public square in the nation to make the public aware of how out of touch Schmidt and Google are when it comes to our privacy rights.”
The ad asks people to text the word Evil to 69866 to show their support. I guess “666” wasn’t available.
“Don’t be evil” is Google’s unofficial corporate motto, but Consumer Watchdog says that Google isn’t doing a good job keeping the mounds of personal data they collect private.
Court says that Schmidt himself is clueless when it comes to privacy and quotes him as saying,
“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
Then there’s this, from a recent Wall Street Journal interview;
“[Schmidt] predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites.
“I mean we really have to think about these things as a society,” he adds. “I’m not even talking about the really terrible stuff, terrorism and access to evil things.”
Really? When I started writing about this sign in Times Square I thought it was overkill. Now, I’ve now changed my mind.
John M. Simpson, director of the group’s Inside Google Project, suggests a “Do Not Track Me” list that would keep Google, or anyone from tracking your moves online.
According to a poll conducted on behalf of InsideGoogle.com, 80% of people in the US supported such a list. They also like the idea of an “anonymous button” that allows individuals to stop anyone from tracking their online searches or purchases and a ban on collecting data on minors.
All good ideas, but implementation and enforcement would be very difficult. The trouble is, it’s not just Google who is collecting and / or spreading private data. Schmidt was right about one thing when he mentioned the “youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites,” and then there are the drunken Facebook updates and the obscenity-filled blog post aimed at your ex.
Maybe, before we go throwing stones at Google, we should be looking at how much information we ourselves put online for all to see.
Not passing by Times Square anytime soon? You can watch the ad on YouTube.