Consumer Watchdog Says We Are Google’s Product

    June 25, 2012

California’s Consumer Watchdog met with the city’s Assembly’s Transportation Committee today, to discuss opposition to SB 1298, Google driverless car legislation.

They say, strong privacy for those who use the highways is a must if Google’s Driverless car legislation is to go through.

They emphasize that Google is a corporation who makes its money by selling advertising space and details about our behavior. Essentially they point out, we are Google’s product.

In a letter to the Assembly Transportation Committee Chair Bonnie Lowenthal, John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director, wrote:

“Google’s entire business model is based on building digital dossiers about our personal behavior and using them to sell the most personal advertising to us. You’re not Google’s customer; you are its product – the one it sells to corporations willing to pay any price to reach you. Will the driverless technology be just about getting us from point to point or about tracking how we got there and what we did along the way?”

“SB 1298 must be amended to provide that driverless cars gather only the data necessary to operate the vehicle and retain that data only as long as necessary for their operation. It should not be used for any additional purpose such as marketing or advertising without the consumer’s explicit opt-in consent.”

“Consumers enthusiastically adopted the new technology of the Internet. What we were not told was that our use of the Information Superhighway would be monitored and tracked in order to personalize corporate marketing and make Google a fortune. Now that Google is taking to the freeways, we must prevent inappropriate collection and storage of data about our personal movements and environment before we allow Google’s robots to take to the roads and report back to the Googleplex.”

“Consumer Watchdog supports driverless car technology and predicts it will be commonplace sooner than many of us expect,”

“However, it must not be allowed to become yet another way to track us in our daily lives.”

The time to ensure that this new driverless car technology has the necessary privacy protections is while it is being designed and developed. Trying to catch up after it is broadly implemented will simply not work. That is why I call on you to amend SB 1298 to require that consumers must give opt-in consent before any data gathered through driverless car technology is used for any purpose other than driving the vehicle.”

The meeting about Google’s driverless technology gets underway this afternoon in Sacramento, California, Outside State Capitol, Room 4202, at 1:30 PM. The Transportation Committee will hear opposition to the new legislation.