Google has now decided to run ads from Consumer Watchdog critical of
the Internet giant’s privacy practices and aimed to promote a satirical
animated video of CEO Eric Schmidt.
We bought three ads, linked to search terms like "Google CEO Eric
Schmidt" and "CEO Eric Schmidt Privacy." Google disapproved them giving
as a reason, "Trademark in Ad Text." Thursday Consumer Watchdog
President Jamie Court and I wrote Schmidt arguing that the company had a moral obligation to display advertising from critics.
“A company that owns a search engine that controls 70% of the market
and wants to know everything about us should at least let people buy
search word advertisements that criticize it by name,” we said.
We also criticized Schmidt for his Orwellian remarks in Berlin this week while on a supposed European charm offensive. That’s when he told the IFA conference in Germany:
“Ultimately, search is not just the web but literally
all of your information – your email, the things you care about, with
your permission – this is personal search, for you and only for you….We
can suggest what you should do next, what you care about. Imagine: We
know where you are, we know what you like… A near-term future in which
you don’t forget anything, because the computer remembers. You’re never
We haven’t heard back about the privacy concerns voiced in the
letter. In fact we haven’t received any word from Google notifying us of
the flip-flop on the ad approval. I leaned of it when CNET reporter Tom Krazit contacted me for a story
he was working on. He said that he had asked Google about our letter to
Schmidt and was told the ads had been approved and were running.
We checked, and our Google AdWords manager and found they had been
approved. And, as you can see, a search on "google ceo eric schmidt"
displayed one of our messages.
Google finally did the right thing and deserves credit for that. Now I
just hope they treat everyone the same way and ensure equal access for
any critic’s advertisements, not just organizations that manage — like
Consumer Watchdog — to buy space on a Jumbotron in Times Square and
write a letter to the CEO.
Oh, and now that the ads are approved, we’ve extended the campaign for another week. Thanks, Eric.