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Google’s Page Clueless When It Comes to Privacy Concerns About Glass

4:34 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Google CEO Larry Page simply doesn’t get it when it comes to privacy concerns about the Internet giant’s new computerized eyewear, Google Glass. He made that crystal clear at the annual shareholders’s meeting Thursday.

Google GlassI made my annual trek to Mountain View to attend the Internet giant’s shareholder meeting and pose some questions directly to Google’s top executives. I said Glass is one of the most privacy invasive and Orwellian devices ever made because it allows a user to surreptitiously photograph or video us or our kids. “It’s a voyeur’s dream come true,” I said, before noting the hypocrisy in unleashing a device that enables massive violations of everyone else’s privacy, but operating under rules that barred cameras and recording devices from the meeting. Take a look at a video from the meeting.

“Obviously, there are cameras everywhere, ” responded Page. “”People worry about all sorts of things that actually, when we use the product, it is not found to be that big a concern.”

“You don’t collapse in terror that someone might be using Glass in the bathroom just the same as you don’t collapse in terror when someone comes in with a smartphone that might take a picture. It’s not that big a deal. So, I would encourage you all not to create fear and concern about technological change until it’s actually out there and people are using it and they understand the issues.”

John SimpsonPage tried to compare the video cameras on ubiquitous smartphones with Google Glass. That’s exactly the point. There is a huge difference. I don’t collapse in fear that I’ll be videoed in the bathroom by a smartphone camera precisely because it’s obvious that someone is using the camera. I can politely ask them to stop, or escalate my protests as appropriate if necessary. Indeed, consider this satirical video, “Supercharge”, featuring Page and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt if you don’t understand what I mean. It’s obvious Schmidt is invading the privacy of the gentleman in the next stall. Take a look at the video. You’ll see what I mean.

It doesn’t work that with Glass and that’s what is so creepy. There’s an app that snaps a photo with a wink. People have no idea that they are being photographed or videoed. That’s what people are worried about and they want the ability to delete videos and photos from Google’s database when they discover their privacy has been invaded.
Page says we shouldn’t worry about “technological change until it’s actually out there and people are using it.” He’s wrong. You need to to think about the impact before the technology is implemented. That’s what’s entailed in the concept of privacy by design, something that Google just doesn’t seem to get.

And here’s another point to ponder: As Google was holding its annual meeting, The Washington Post was breaking the details of NSA’s overreaching, intrusive snooping on users of some of the biggest Internet companies including Google with its PRISM program. Can’t you imagine a billion Glass users and a billion winks and the data that would flow to NSA?

Posted by John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project. Follow Consumer Watchdog online on Facebook and Twitter.

FTC should proceed with case against Google

2:44 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

 When you stare down a $220 billion corporation, it’s hard not to blink. But if the Federal Trade Commission doesn’t deliver on its ultimatum to Google that it settle its antitrust problems soon for real relief or face prosecution, then consumers will never get the open and unfettered online and mobile access to information they deserve.

While the government’s battle with Microsoft in the 1990s was about whether the dominant software company could bundle software and an Internet browser, the antitrust case against Google is about whether one company should have so much control over online information that it can steer us any where it chooses for its own profit.

This is the power to make or break businesses, control online discourse, and steer consumers to the Internet giant’s own websites and affiliated businesses, all based on tweaking an unseen algorithm and holding a network of key online and mobile gateways and properties.

Google’s 70% control of online searches and 90% control of mobile searches, along with its dominant Android mobile operating system, patents, and vast content acquisitions make it the Standard Oil of our time.

The allegations against Google are that it restrains online trade with biased search results that drive consumers to the content it owns (Google Travel, Products, YouTube, Maps, Google+, etc.) or content it chooses, as opposed to that favored organically by the public.

Restraint of trade may be different today than in 1911 when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil broken into parts under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Nonetheless the antitrust principle of preventing dominant players from playing unfairly and hurting consumers by driving out legitimate competition is very real for Google’s 2012 business model.

The principle at stake in the FTC case is critical:

If you want to do business online, should you be forced to do business with Google?

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Google CEO Page Should Testify To Congress As News Corp. CEO Murdoch Had To Answer To Parliament

2:22 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

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Washington, DC – In an opinion piece published in POLITICO today, 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.

Google Street View cars collected information – including private emails, bank account information and passwords – from the unsecured wireless networks of millions of people in 30 countries. Much as Murdoch blamed the phone hacking at its newspapers on a few rogue reporters, Google has insisted that a lone engineer was responsible for the company’s collection of years worth of private information from the public.

Read the opinion piece below, or at Politico:

POLITICO
Opinion Contributor
Congress needs to search for Google transparency
By JAMIE COURT and JOHN M. SIMPSON | 6/18/12 10:15 PM EDT

A billionaire media mogul is forced to take responsibility after his employees hack into the private communications of families and use the information for his media empire’s profit. He insists top executives did not know and a few rogue employees were to blame. But the evidence contradicts him.

The government committee investigating these actions grills the plutocrat and concludes he is “not fit“ to lead. His top underlings now face arrest.
That’s the Rupert Murdoch story in London. On this side of the Atlantic, however, Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page is overseeing privacy invasions far wider than Murdoch’s. Yet his corporation is still avoiding serious scrutiny.

The Murdoch hacking scandal affected many lives, but Google’s map-making Street View cars hacked into millions of private Wi-Fi Networks in 30 countries around the world. They sucked up personal data — email, banking information and passwords and other information. The Federal Communications Commission has fined Google a mere $25,000 for impeding its investigation of Google’s Wi-Spying.

While Google tried to blame this entire enterprise on a rogue engineer, the FCC found that the engineer told many others at the company about the wireless data collection — despite the company’s denials that anyone else knew. The scheme was even outlined in Street View project design documents.

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