Consumer Watchdog Hacks A Tesla to Prove Dangers of Wirelessly Connected Cars

Los Angeles, CA – The nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer  Watchdog today released a video showing how a box it built with the help of technologists could hack into the wireless connection of a Tesla and take over the screen with a “This Tesla’s Been Hacked” message.  

The video can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/RgpmJ6OhPns

KNBC TV-4 LA: Prop 24: Consumer Advocates Take Very Different Positions on Digital Privacy Proposition

What's on your ballot? My take on the 2020 California propositions

Wondering what the story is with the dozen statewide propositions on your ballot? We've had so many requests that, while Consumer Watchdog hasn't weighed in on every measure, I'm sharing my personal recommendations below.

Prop 14 – LEANING NO
Allows the state stem cell research institute, CIRM, created 15 years ago by a prior ballot measure, to raise another $5.5 billion through bond sales to fund stem cell research.

US Senators Call Out NHTSA For Failure To Protect Americans From Risk Of Internet Connected Cars, Demand Answers

Washington D.C.  - Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), calling out the agency's "dangerously reactive approach to cybersecurity" in Internet connected cars.

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.

Ricardo Lara Wants To Give Insurance Companies Your Driving Data

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 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.

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.

U.S., European Consumer Groups Call on FTC to Investigate Google for Deceptively Tracking Android Phone Users

An association of more than 75 consumer groups on both sides of the Atlantic is asking the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google for unfairly and deceptively manipulating users of mobile phones with the Android operating system into being constantly location-tracked.

In a letter to the FTC the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) charged: “Google is removing individuals’ control over their data by deceit.”

Read the TACD letter here.

Consumer Watchdog Calls Chrysler Out Over Possible Recall For 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Los Angeles, CA -- Chrysler Fiat has failed to respond to a letter from the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog sent more than two weeks ago identifying a potentially fatal flaw in its 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The group identified the failure of the driver’s side airbag to deploy because of the lack of electrical conductivity due to a clock spring that is the same or similar design as the 1998- 2001 Chrysler Grand Caravan in which a recall of 1.29 million automobiles was ordered.

California DMV’s Approval for Waymo to Test Driverless Robot Cars Is Premature

LOS ANGELES, CA – The California Department of Motor Vehicles approval today of Waymo’s application to test driverless robot cars in Santa Clara County is premature and key questions must be answered by both Waymo, Google’s driverless car unit, and the Department before any testing starts, Consumer Watchdog said.

Consumer Watchdog Joins Complaint Asking FTC to Investigate Apps Which Manipulate Kids

LOS ANGELES, CA -- Consumer Watchdog today joined the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy and 19 other consumer and health advocacy groups in calling on the Federal Trade Commission to hold app makers accountable for unfair and deceptive practices, including falsely marketing apps that require in-app purchases as "free" and manipulating children to watch ads and make purchases.

Google+ Data Breach Shows Internet Giant Cannot Be Trusted to Police Its Platform

LOS ANGELES – The data breach of Google’s social network, Google+, that the company hid since last March, shows that the Internet Giant cannot be trusted to police its own platforms, Consumer Watchdog said today.

Consumer Watchdog first pointed out Google’s failure to police its social network in 2013 when it released a seven-month study that found the company had allowed Google+ to become a virtual playground for online predators with explicit sexual content.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on U.S. Antitrust Authorities to Follow Europe’s $5.1 Billion Lead, Take Action Against Google’s Android Abuses

LOS ANGELES, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on U.S. antitrust authorities to follow the lead of Europe’s top competition official, Margrethe Vestager, and take decisive action against Google for unfairly using its monopoly power on its Android operating system.

Consumer Watchdog Heralds Landmark CA Consumer Privacy Reform

LOS ANGELES, CA –Consumer Watchdog said today that the new privacy law passed today in California is a landmark reform and should be a bellwether for America.

"Today, Californians won the right to control their private information and to hold companies accountable for data breaches with stiff financial penalties," said Jamie Court. "This landmark reform should spread to all of America and be implemented for all Americans just as it has been for Californians. 

Eight Consumer Advocacy Groups Call Upon FTC to Investigate Google and Facebook for Pushing Users into Choosing Less Privacy-friendly Options

LOS ANGELES, CA – Consumer Watchdog today joined the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and six other consumer groups in calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the misleading and manipulative tactics of Google and Facebook in steering users to “consent” to privacy-invasive default settings.

Privacy Bill’s Progress in California Senate is Victory for Consumers, Consumer Watchdog Says

LOS ANGELES – The 5-0 vote today by the California Senate’s Judiciary Committee to move a compromise privacy bill forward was a significant step toward ensuring Californian’s privacy, Consumer Watchdog said.

The bill, AB 375, may not be as strong as the California Consumer Privacy Act ballot initiative it is intended to replace, but for the first time gives consumers substantial control over their personal information and provides a right of private action for people to bring a suit if there is a data breach, the nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group said.

Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog Call on DMV to Investigate Deceptive Tesla “Autopilot” marketing

Los Angeles, CA -- The Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog called on the California Department of Motor Vehicles today to investigate the dangerously misleading, deceptive marketing practices and representations made by Tesla Motors, Inc. regarding the safety and capabilities of its Autopilot feature.  

Consumer Watchdog Calls for Strong Regulations on Robot Car Testing After NTSB Crash Report Reveals Deficiencies in Uber’s Technology

LOS ANGELES, CA – Robot car developers cannot be trusted to safely test their cars on public roads without strong government regulation and oversight, said Consumer Watchdog today, after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a report revealing that the Uber car that killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona in March had its automatic emergency braking system turned off as part of its effort to test its robot technology.

As Americans Hit the Road for Memorial Day, Consumer Watchdog Poll Finds Voters Want Congress to Apply the Brakes on Driverless Cars

LOS ANGELES, CA – As Americans Hit the Road for Memorial Day driving their own cars, voters surveyed in four states have serious safety and privacy concerns when it comes to driverless car technology and want Congress to apply the brakes to robot car technology until it is proven safe, according to public opinion poll conducted for Consumer Watchdog released today.

Consumer Watchdog Backs California DMV’s Call For Robot Car Makers To Explain Robot Car Failures

LOS ANGELES, CA – Consumer Watchdog today backed the Californian Department of Motor Vehicle’s effort that in effect  told eight robot car manufacturers to stop beating around the bush and more clearly tell the public how robot cars being tested on public roads are actually performing.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on DMV to Open Robot Car Application Process to Public after Waymo Application Is Deemed Ready for Review

LOS ANGELES, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on the Department of Motor Vehicles to open its application process for granting permits to test driverless robot cars to the public as the department confirmed an applicant had provided all the information necessary to review the application.

The department would not identify the applicant, but Consumer Watchdog learned it was Waymo, originally Google’s autonomous car unit. A DMV spokesperson would not specify a timeframe but estimated it would take at least some weeks before a final decision is made on the application.

Google’s First-Quarter Lobbying Expenditures Top $5 Mmillion; AT&T, Comcast Each Surpass $4 Million

LOS ANGELES, CA – Google’s lobbying expenditures in the first quarter of this year topped $5 million, as the Internet giant sought to influence federal policymakers on issues including online privacy, competition, online advertising and online sex-trafficking, Consumer Watchdog said today.

No Free Lunch on Facebook

Much of the criticism of Mark Zuckerberg's testimony in Congress from the public and the media alike was leveled at members of Congress for asking supposedly stupid questions rather than at Mark Zuckerberg for his disingenuous responses. "Congress doesn't understand Facebook," claimed Dylan Byers of CNN.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on Google, Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to Follow Facebook and Drop Opposition to Privacy Ballot Initiative

LOS ANGELES – Consumer Watchdog today called on tech giants Google, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to follow Facebook’s lead and drop their opposition to a California privacy ballot initiative.  The not-for-profit group called on Mark Zuckerberg – as an individual -- to become the public face of the campaign as the poster child for how privacy problems can go awry even when you think you have a handle on them.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on Congress to Act to Regulate Facebook and Protect Online Privacy

LOS ANGELES – Consumer Watchdog today called on Congress to enact legislation that would protect consumers’ online privacy and not merely facilitate Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s latest public-relations-driven apology tour.

“Facebook has a longtime record of violating privacy, making a show of apologizing, and then going forward to invade privacy again,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy and Technology Project director. “Hearings aren’t enough, unless Congress simply wants to be an enabler for Zuckerberg’s continued abuses.”

Consumer Watchdog Welcomes Law That Holds Websites Like Backpage Accountable for Sex Trafficking

LOS ANGELES – Consumer Watchdog today welcomed President Trump’s signing of FOSTA/SESTA into law, calling it a major victory for victims of Internet sex trafficking and their families, as well as for those hoping to hold technology companies more accountable for the content on their websites.

Consumer Watchdog Joins Complaint Charging Google’s YouTube Violates Federal Children’s Privacy Law

LOS ANGELES, CA – Consumer Watchdog today joined a coalition of more than 20 leading U.S. child advocacy, consumer, and privacy groups in filing a complaint asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and sanction Google for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in operating the popular video platform, YouTube.

Consumer Groups to Zuckerberg: Stop Electioneering; Let Jimmy Carter Monitor Facebook

SANTA MONICA, CA --- A coalition of privacy and consumer groups today warned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the integrity of elections, in this country and internationally, is at stake, unless Facebook stops electioneering and retains Jimmy Carter to audit Facebook’s influence on elections.

CVS Disclosed HIV Status Of 6,000 Ohioans Putting Their Health And Safety At Risk

CVS, one of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical benefit managers, disclosed the HIV status of 6,000 patients enrolled in the Ohio HIV Drug Assistance Program (“OhDAP”), which provides assistance to low-income patients, according to a new class action lawsuit.

Download the complaint here.

Consumer Watchdog Challenges Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Put His Money Where His Mouth Is and Fund Privacy Ballot Initiative

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today challenged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to put his money where his mouth is and help fund a California privacy ballot initiative and also tell the social platform’s users if they were among the 50 million people whose data was breached.

Consumer Watchdog Says NHTSA Needs More Data Before Paving the Road For Unregulated Robot Cars

SANTA MONICA, CA --- Shortly following the death of a pedestrian killed by a robot car over the weekend in Tempe, Arizona, Consumer Watchdog called on the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to collect more data about robot cars before changing federal policies that would effectively pave the road for unregulated robot cars. 

Consumer Watchdog Joins Coalition Demanding DOT Exercise Strong Oversight of Robot Cars

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog has joined a broad coalition representing public health and safety professionals, bicyclists, pedestrians, smart growth advocates, consumers, environmentalists, law enforcement, first responders, and individuals with disabilities in calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to fulfill its legal obligation to ensure effective oversight for the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles.

In a letter today to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao the 26 signatories to the letter warned:

Consumer Watchdog Praises House for Passing Bill to Stop Internet Sex Trafficking

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today praised the U.S. House of Representatives for passing a bipartisan bill amending a key Internet law so rogue websites like Backpage.com can be held accountable for facilitating child sex trafficking.

The nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group called on the Senate to pass a similar bipartisan bill, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, (SESTA) S. 1693, sponsored by Rob Portman (R-OH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).  SESTA has 67 co-sponsors.

New CA Rules Make Dangerous Video Game Out of Robot Car Testing

SANTA MONICA, CA – New California autonomous vehicle regulations released today by the Department of Motor Vehicles will turn testing robot cars into a deadly video game that threatens highway safety, Consumer Watchdog warned.

“A remote test operator will be allowed to monitor and attempt to control the robot car from afar,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog Privacy and Technology Project Director. “It will be just like playing a video game, except lives will be at stake.”

Companies’ Failure to Publish Robot Car Safety Self-Assessments Shows NHTSA’s Voluntary Standards Don’t Work

SANTA MONICA, CA – The failure of virtually all robot car developers to publish safety self-assessments described in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s policy on automated driving systems demonstrates the failure of voluntary standards to protect highway safety, Consumer Watchdog said today.

Consumer Watchdog Asks FTC to Act Against Google Home, Amazon Echo Digital Assistants for Deception, COPPA Violation

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and take action against Google and Amazon for deceptively marketing their Home and Echo digital assistants and charged the two Internet giants’ devices also violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

In a letter to FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen and Commissioner Terrell McSweeny Consumer Watchdog Privacy and Technology Project Director John M. Simpson said the deception issue was raised by patents the companies filed that are associated with the devices

Home Assistant Adopter Beware: Google, Amazon Digital Assistant Patents Reveal Plans for Mass Snooping

SANTA MONICA, CA – Internet giants Amazon and Google are slashing prices and offering supposed deals on their “digital assistants” this holiday season, but a study of patent applications associated with the devices reveals plans for massive surveillance of users’ homes, Consumer Watchdog warned today.

Consumer Watchdog Joins International Call for Rental Car Firms to Protect Driver Data Privacy

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today joined Privacy International and other public interest groups in an international call for car rental companies to protect the privacy of driver and passenger data their rented vehicles collect.

“Today’s cars are little more than rolling computers that amass huge amounts of information,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy and Technology Project Director.  “When you rent a car, you must have the right to control how that extremely revealing data is used.”

Consumer Watchdog Backs Justice Department Bid to Block $85 Billion AT&T-Time Warner Deal

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today backed the U.S. Department of Justice suit to block AT&T’s planned purchase of Time Warner for $85 billion, saying that the proposed deal would give the giant company too much control over both content and distribution, limiting consumers’ choice and ultimately costing them more money.

“No matter what other motivations may exist for bringing this suit,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy and Technology Project Director, “It is the correct policy.”

Consumer Watchdog Warns DMV Adopted GM Robot Car Rule Language Exceeds Its Authority

SANTA MONICA, CA – Language adopted from a General Motors suggestion by the California Department of Motor Vehicles in its revised proposed autonomous vehicle regulations would “let robot carmakers railroad consumers” into being liable for car crashes when the robot driver fails and the rule exceeds DMV’s authority, Consumer Watchdog warned today.