Is Consumer Watchdog Gunning for Google?

Lora Bentley
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Six Privacy Principles Google Forgot


Consumer Watchdog wants a congressional hearing on what it calls Google's "Wi-Spying," which I presume is short for Wi-Fi spying.


The California-based public interest group is calling for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Ranking Member Joe Barton, R-Texas, to launch an investigation into Google's collection of Wi-Fi data as well as its relationship with the federal government.


In a letter to the lawmakers, Consumer Watchdog's John Simpson indicated that new information showed that Google's "inadvertent" collection of Wi-Fi data was not "inadvertent" at all. He said:

[R]eview of a patent application from Google covering the gathering of Wi-Fi data published Jan. 28 shows that the data collection program was a very deliberate effort to assemble as much information as possible about U.S. residential and business Wi-Fi networks.

Simpson also called into question "the increasingly close relationship between Google and the U.S. national security establishment." He pointed to a Washington Post piece announcing Google's acquisition of a "top secret" government client, as well as White House visitor logs indicating Google representatives have recently met with National Security Council members, as evidence of that relationship.


Then, of course, there is the much-lauded partnership the company already has with the National Security Agency. It's clear that Simpson doesn't think much of the NSA. He reminds the lawmakers that it is "the very same government body that illegally intercepted the private communications of millions of Americans during the Bush administration."


At first glance, it looked as if Consumer Watchdog is merely still upset about the Wi-Fi data-collection scandal, which spanned 33 countries and Hong Kong. But now it seems the privacy advocacy group wants to take Google down.

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