Google Challenged By Consumer Watchdog Over Privacy

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Consumer Watchdog, a group known for being critical of Google, is sponsoring legislation in California that would give people a an online “Do Not Track Me” option.

In addition, Consumer Watchdog sent a letter to new Google CEO Larry Page asking him to support the “Do Not Track Me” plan and prove his company is moving in a new direction.

In a letter to Page Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court and John M. Simpson, director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group's Privacy Project, wrote:

"Eric Schmidt's tenure as CEO was marked by a series of privacy gaffes. We hope yours will begin with a landmark endorsement of a new privacy right for consumers online that shows freedom of information and personal privacy are not incompatible."

"As you are aware, online commerce relies on consumer trust.  Sadly, much of the current Internet business model is based on invasive and pervasive tracking of consumers' online activities without their knowledge or control," the letter said. "This should not be the business model of a company whose motto is 'Don't Be Evil.' Do Not Track legislation would give consumers meaningful protection and control.  It would build their confidence in the Internet – a win, win situation for business and consumer."

The “Do Not Track Me” legislation would allow anyone online to send websites the message they do not want their online activity monitored.

The bill is the first in California to provide for a Do Not Track mechanism. It is modeled after a federal Do Not Track bill introduced in Congress by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA.

A poll by Consumer Watchdog last summer found that 80% of Americans support a Do Not Track option. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll found that most Americans are worried about their privacy and security when they use Facebook and Google.

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