Consumer Watchdog Targets Google Over Doodle Contest

    February 25, 2011

 Consumer Watchdog, an organization known for being critical of Google, has asked Rep. Rep. Ed Markey, D-MA, and Rep. Joe Barton, R-TX,  for hearings on why Google collected children’s social security numbers on entry forms for its Doodle 4 Google contest.

In a letter to the Congressmen, who are co-chairmen of the Bipartisan House Privacy Caucus, the nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group said, "The Doodle 4 Google incident is not a one-time event, but part of a consistent pattern of disregarding privacy rights."

Google-Social-Security "Google’s entire business relies on using personal data, yet it repeatedly has demonstrated that is not a reliable steward of consumers’ information," wrote John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Inside Google Project.

"Consumer Watchdog urges the House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus to seek hearings that would finally hold Google accountable and require top executives to testify under oath about why these privacy gaffes continue and how they will be stopped."

"Because Google is such a force in the online world, holding it accountable and forcing it to explain what prompts its repeated misbehavior and disregard for privacy, would have a salutary impact on the entire online industry. I urge you to seek a hearing focusing on Google’s pattern of violating privacy until caught and then apologizing for the allegedly unintended violation," the letter stated.

Consumer Watchdog says its goal is to convince Google of the social and economic importance of giving people control over their online lives. The group says by persuading Google to adopt adequate guarantees, its policies could become the gold standard for privacy for the industry.