Consumer Watchdog Backs Call for Congressional Hearing on Google’s WiSpy Snooping

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SANTA MONICA, CA — Consumer Watchdog today
praised three Congressmen for releasing Google’s purported explanation
of its three-year WiSpy snooping and endorsed a call for a
Congressional hearing about the incident. Consumer Watchdog also called
for the Federal Communications Commission to investigate.

“Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Co-Founders Larry Page and Sergey
Brin need to testify under oath to Congress about what data Google
gathered and what they did with it,” said John M. Simpson, consumer
advocate with the nonpartisan, nonprofit group.

Google’s explanation came in a letter signed by Google lobbyist Pablo
Chavez to U.S. Reps. Joe Barton, R-Texas, Edward Markey, D-Mass., and
Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif.  The congressmen seemed skeptical of Google’s
response and Barton said “this matter warrants a hearing, at minimum.”

“This is deeply troubling for a company that bases its business model
on gathering consumer data,” Barton said. “That failure is even more
disturbing and ironic in view of the fact that Google is lobbying the
government to regulate Internet service providers, but not Google.”

Read the Congressmen’s release here:

“Transparency and trust are the key cornerstones that form the
foundation of strong privacy protections for consumers. It’s clear that
in this case, Google fell short in both these areas,” Markey said. “In
its response to our inquiry, Google admitted mistakes it made in this
matter and indicated that it has taken corrective action, including
termination of its collection of WiFi data entirely by its Street View
cars. We have raised concerns about this matter with the Federal Trade
Commission on this important issue and will continue to actively and
aggressively monitor developments in this area.”

Barton said a hearing would be appropriate because Congress is
contemplating privacy legislation. A discussion draft of the privacy
bill has been circulated for comment by the House Subcommittee on
Communications, Technology and the Internet.  In response to the draft,
ten leading privacy and consumer organizations sent a letter to
 Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Rick Boucher and Ranking Member Cliff
Stearns calling for for much stronger provisions to protect consumer
privacy both online and off.

Read the groups’ letter here:

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Consumer Watchdog, formerly the
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a nonprofit, nonpartisan
consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa
Monica, Ca.  Consumer Watchdog’s website is
Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website:

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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