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Google Rejects Open Hand On California Consumer Privacy Act

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 21:28

Consumer Watchdog Questions Executives About Ballot Measure During Alphabet Shareholders Meeting

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA –  Google executives today expressed little interest in supporting or compromising on the pending ballot measure entitled the California Consumer Privacy Act after Consumer Watchdog raised the issue with top executives at Google parent Alphabet Inc.’s annual shareholders meeting.

“Google executives must learn that it has to be part of crafting a legislative solution to online privacy problems or it is the problem,” said Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog. “Last year Google batted away our open hand on amending the Communications Decency Act and its defiance led to a signature on that law by President Trump.  Google should reevaluate its intransigence on legislative privacy changes.”

Consumer Watchdog’s John M. Simpson, an Alphabet Inc. shareholder, asked for an explanation of Google’s opposition to the ballot initiative that, if passed in November, will give consumers more control over their personal information. He referenced the fact that Facebook and Verizon have pulled out of the coalition opposed to the measure.

“Since Google says it does not even sell data about you, why is the company opposing this privacy protecting ballot Initiative?” asked Simpson.

Kent Walker, Sr. Vice President and General Counsel of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, as he did at last year’s meeting, when answering a question about Congressional amendment to the Communications Decency Act, essentially defended the status quo.

View a video of Simpson’s exchange with Alphabet and Google executives here: https://youtu.be/-t4IQtTdytU

View Simpson’s exchange with Walker last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCu6MvTWmDk

On Saturday, at its Rage For Justice Awards, Consumer Watchdog celebrated federal enactment of the narrow amendment to the Communications Decency Act creating liability for online sex trafficking opposed by Google last year at its meeting.

At the Awards, Consumer Watchdog acknowledged Nacole S., a mother on whose behalf Simpson raised the question last year.  Watch the video of the mom of the sex trafficked teen accepting the Citizen Activist of the Year Award and referencing Google’s opposition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj4zmy9c8lI

View the tribute video on Nacole from Saturday’s celebration in LA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfdmFaZUq44&t=1s

If enacted, the California Consumer Privacy Act will give consumers:

(1) the right to tell a business not to share or sell their personal information

(2) the right to know where and to whom their data is being sold or disclosed

(3) the right to protections against businesses who do not uphold the value of their privacy.

Read about the ballot initiative and find the initiative's text here: www.caprivacy.org

Google, along with AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Facebook each donated  $200,000 to a super PAC to oppose the linitiative even before it had qualified for the ballot. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook withdrew its opposition and Verizon followed suit recently.

Just last month, before Simpson had a chance to pose the question in person, Consumer Watchdog called upon Google, Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to follow Facebook’s lead and drop opposition to Privacy Ballot Initiative.  [http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/privacy-technology/consumer-watchdog-ca…]

“Google’s opposition makes no sense when Google claims they do not share or sell their users personal information. If this were truly the case, then Google would not have any reason to pour money into fighting an initiative that guarantees consumers basic privacy rights,” said Simpson.  

Simpson has regularly attended  Alphabet (formerly Google) annual shareholder meetings. Last year, Simpson asked whether the company would support an amendment to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. At the shareholder’s meeting, Google declined to back a narrow amendment that would make it so that websites such as Backpage could be held accountable for child sex trafficking facilitated on their platforms. Despite Google’s lack of support, the bill was passed overwhelmingly by. Congress and was signed into law by President Trump in April.

Consumer Watchdog said the California Consumer Privacy Act is a reasonable approach to protecting privacy and in no way threatens legitimate Internet business models.

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Visit our website at www.consumerwatchdog.org