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:

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.

Rein In Robot Cars, Or Humans Will Lose The Right Of Way

People are fighting back against robot cars.

Self-driving cars being tested in Arizona by Waymo, a Google sister company, have been attacked by residents in at least 21 separate incidents, according to the Arizona Republic. People in the Chandler area have thrown rocks at the cars, slashed their tires and run them off the road. One man even pulled a gun on a Waymo test driver.

Consumer Watchdog Joins Coalition of 22 Consumer and Privacy Groups Calling on FTC to End Google’s Apps Store’s Exploitation of Kids

Consumer Watchdog has joined a coalition of 22 consumer and public health advocacy groups calling on the Federal Trade Commission to stop Google’s app store from promoting games that violate children’s privacy, feature inappropriate content, and lure kids to watch ads and make in-app purchases.

Landmark California Consumer Privacy Act Would Have Let People Block Facebook’s Sharing of Private Data, Consumer Watchdog says

LOS ANGELES – Facebook’s latest revealed privacy invasion could have been thwarted if the landmark California Consumer Privacy Act were in effect and the strong state law must not be preempted by weak federal privacy laws, Consumer Watchdog said today.

For years, the New York Times reported this week, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it disclosed. Companies like Microsoft, Netflix and Spotify got special access to Facebook users’ data without anyone else knowing, the Times said.

Google’s Second Failure to Protect Data Security on Its Social Network Shows Need for California Privacy Law

LOS ANGELES -- Google’s revelation today that its social network Google+ suffered a second major security lapse in less than a year makes clear the Internet giant cannot be trusted to police its own platforms and underscores the need for strong laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act, Consumer Watchdog said today.

Consumer Watchdog Calls On Pelosi To Stop Lame-Duck Preemption of New California Privacy and Auto Safety Laws

Los Angeles, CA –  Consumer advocates today called on House Minority Leader and Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi to stop an effort by the auto industry in the lame duck session to overturn California privacy and auto safety laws governing self-driving cars.

​​​​​​​Consumer Watchdog Warns Continuing Revolving Door of Senior Government Auto Safety Officials to Robot Car Makers Undercuts Public’s Trust in Regulations 

LOS ANGELES – Consumer Watchdog today warned that an ongoing revolving door between top government auto safety officials and the manufacturers of autonomous vehicles undercuts the public’s faith in robot car regulations and government policies. 

Massive Marriott Data Breach Shows Need for California Consumer Privacy Act

LOS ANGELES -- Marriott International’s massive data breach in which the personal information of up to 500 million guests could have been stolen shows the value of the recently enacted California Consumer Privacy Act, Consumer Watchdog said today. 

Businesses are already working to weaken the law, the strongest privacy law in the nation which takes effect in 2020. California Legislators must resist those efforts, the nonprofit nonpartisan public interest group said.