SANTA MONICA, CA — Consumer Watchdog today called on the Federal Trade Commission to launch an immediate probe of Google’s snooping on private WiFi networks as the Internet giant sent its Street View cars to gather information.
The flagrant intrusion into consumers’ privacy only came to light because of tough questions from European regulators. Late last Friday the company acknowledged gathering “payload data” from WiFi networks. Less than a month ago Google had denied accumulating the information. Google engineers attributed the discrepancy to a “mistake.”
“Google has demonstrated a history of pushing the envelope and then apologizing when its overreach is discovered,” said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate with the nonpartisan, nonprofit consumer group. “Given its recent record of privacy abuses, there is absolutely no reason to trust anything the Internet giant claims about its data collection policies.”
Consumer Watchdog called on the FTC to document what data Google has been gathering, for how long and what the company does with it.
“The FTC needs to ask what did Google know and when did Google know it,” said Simpson.
The FTC has the authority and public trust necessary to get to the bottom of Google’s dubious data collection practices, Consumer Watchdog said. The probe should reveal exactly how consumers’ privacy has been compromised and what remedies are required.
“Google’s suggestion for a third-party audit is inadequate,” said Simpson. “That would be like like getting to pick and pay the referees in a championship basketball game. This investigation must be done by a regulatory authority capable of imposing real sanctions.”
– 30 –
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 http://www.consumerwatchdog.org. Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website: http://InsideGoogle.com