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Anti-Google Video Runs In Times Square 346

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that Consumer Watchdog is running a 540-square-foot video billboard advertisement in Times Square, New York that shows Google CEO Eric Schmidt as an ingratiating ice cream truck driver who knows everything about everyone and happily offers free ice cream in exchange for full body scans. The group says its goal is to push Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to create a Do Not Track Me list, similar to the Do Not Call list developed to prevent telemarketers from aggressively calling consumers. 'Do you want Google or any other online company looking over your shoulder and tracking your every move online just so it can increase its profits?' writes the group's president, Jamie Curtis, at the group's web site. 'Consumers have a right to privacy. They should control how their information is gathered and what it is used for.' The FTC's consumer affairs group had no comment on whether the agency is considering creating a Do Not Track Me list."
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Anti-Google Video Runs In Times Square

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  • Free ice cream (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KillaGouge ( 973562 )
    I'd take free ice cream in exhange for a full body scan.
  • by Even on Slashdot FOE ( 1870208 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:24PM (#33467544)

    They'll have to be sure to remember who I am wherever I go, right? That way they can be sure they aren't, for example, mistaking me for J. Random Trackable guy?

    • by GrumblyStuff ( 870046 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:26PM (#33467608)

      Tracking should be opt-out by default.

      If I wanted to be tracked, I'll make an account on your website.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hedwards ( 940851 )
        You meant tracking should be opt-in. Opt out is better than what we currently have, because at least you can get out if you want to.
    • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:30PM (#33467680) Homepage Journal

      The FTC may ask everything they want, but the internet is not limited to the USA. Once again, they fail to understand the scope of what they're asking.

      The FTC should instead recommend a technical solution about disabling cookies, going through proxies, etc.

      The real question is: how much disabling and routing would it take to be 100% anonymous, at least as far as websites/marketing is concerned?

    • by rm999 ( 775449 )

      Not really, identifying a user is not the same thing as tracking, it is just the first step. Tracking also involves recording some information in a table that utilizes the user as a key. Big practical difference.

      For example, when you are logged into Google they have already identified you, and can avoid logging you by not writing to any of your records.

    • by Americium ( 1343605 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @03:03PM (#33468238)
      I don't get the concern, all the credit card companies are currently selling information about what we buy to whoever will pay. I love the way they go after Google, instead of the companies profiting by selling personal information about people by the 1000. Last I checked, you couldn't call up Google and ask for the addresses of everyone that eats out Italian at least once a month, within a certain zip code. But you can call plenty of other companies for that data.
      • by r7 ( 409657 )

        I don't get the concern

        If you really don't understand the value of privacy then would you, for the sake of verifying your sincerity, posting your own browsing history for the last few days?

        If not the average person would have to assume that you have some financial stake in (other's) browsing history. We know Google owns doubleclick and pays PR firms to astroturf i.e., pose as people who "don't understand" in various public forums. All we don't know is who those 'turfers work for.

    • by COMON$ ( 806135 )
      Ya you have a good point. Personally if I don't want to be tracked I wont be, it is not hard to hide yourself. Relying on some big brother to maintain a list of your IPs and information scares the crap out of me...When are people going to stop being lazy and take care of this themselves?
  • Gmail (Score:2, Interesting)

    by memnock ( 466995 )

    while i've set up a Gmail account, i've never actually used it. partly because of all the other ways that Google has of data mining their users, the Gmail account would like icing on the cake to them. they'd have access to all of the people you associate with, on top of your interests and usual WWW practices. the latter is enough info already.

    • Re:Gmail (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Synon ( 847155 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:55PM (#33468124) Homepage
      I have to ask, why do you care? Ok, great, they have all sorts of data that will give them insight on what products you might be interested in and who you associate with. You get to see small ads on the side with relevant products as a result. Why do you care if they have this info?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Because they're going to sell that data to the Illuminati, who will use it to compile lists of those who'll be detained by FEMA on the day when the one world government shall unveil itself. Duh.

  • Free ice cream? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:26PM (#33467598) Homepage Journal

    I'm allergic to dairy, you insensitive clod!

    • Re:Free ice cream? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:28PM (#33467640)

      Exactly, and the REAL Google would know that, unlike this fake-ass Google knock-off going around trying to kill off the lactose intolerant.

      • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

        Well then, I sure hope that Google uses vegan cookies...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Scarletdown ( 886459 )

          Well then, I sure hope that Google uses vegan cookies...

          Yeah right. As if they would go to all the trouble.

          You know how prohibitively expensive it would be to import cookies (or anything else for that matter) all the way from Vega? [wikipedia.org]

          Not a good ROI there I would say.

      • They're not trying to kill off the lactose-intolerant. They'll just give you the ice cream and then display ads for Gas-X, Pepto Bismol, and toilet paper. That's the beauty of targeted advertising!

        In exchange, I suggest you turn around, bend over, and do some "targeting" of your Hershey squirts to paint the bastards brown.
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:29PM (#33467656) Homepage

    Nevermind Google. Howabout a "do not track me" list for local governments and law enforcement that want to place tracking devices on me and my car?

  • Credit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DuoDreamer ( 1229170 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:29PM (#33467664)
    Why don't we have this option with credit companies? I don't care for them to make money off of my personal information either. I'm certainly not getting any dividend from it.
  • We should all be happy that we're being tracked and monitored and body scanned and probed and the government doesn't even need a warrant for anything anymore and my rights are on hold for the next 20 years and we attacked Iraq and murdered its leader and Afghanistan is the new war on terror, and my mother makes awesome apple pies and we all live in a great country you can tell (please don't burn the flags), and we all like the same things including guns and there's a revolution coming, and you need to be a
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How is the federal government supposed to enforce this? It's a nightmare in the making. Once permission is given, and the feds get their talons into your servers, it's only a matter of time before they're monitoring that data 24/7.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rwa2 ( 4391 ) *

      Heh, +1 insightful.

      Well, it'll end up like Saudi Arabia and India... the government is just going to have to get full access to all of Google's and everyone else's information. That way, they can, uh, stay wary of whether anyone is collecting too much!

      But personally, I'm more worried about the nosy old lady with binoculars across the street than Google (or hackers that happen to break into my Google account). On the other hand, I'm fairly careful/cognizant about what information I make available about mys

  • by cwgmpls ( 853876 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:34PM (#33467742) Journal
    If "consumers have a right to privacy", this same Do Not Track Me list would have to apply to credit card transactions and every retail website on the internet. They have been collecting and using similar information longer than Google. Right now, the only way to guarantee privacy is to always use cash and never give any identifying information on the internet. I'm all for privacy, but it is meaningless if the rules don't apply to everyone who currently collects individual consumer behavior data.
    • What about the credit ratings agencies? Why do they have the right to record information about you without your consent? And to share this with random third parties who want to know something about you - again without your consent?

      This would be illegal in most (if not all) other Western countries.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bsDaemon ( 87307 )

        Because the terms are probably written into the credit card agreements that no one reads when they open up the "pre approved for xxxxx" letters they get in the mail and go "wow, now i can get a new TV!"

      • by jpapon ( 1877296 )

        What about the credit ratings agencies? Why do they have the right to record information about you without your consent?

        They actually don't, I believe you can call them to be removed from their databases. Just don't expect to ever get any credit ever again. Or a cell phone contract. Or Internet service or other utilities without a formidable deposit.

  • Does Google 'track you' any more than a telco does? My phone company has a list of every call I make, and where I made it from. This applies to landlines, mobile phones (though exact location is tricky), and VoIP. If I start using a different company, then I might be able to 'cover my tracks', as it were. But one could do the same thing by getting a new ISP and creating a different Google account.
    • Re:Not new (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jdogalt ( 961241 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:45PM (#33467950) Journal

      "Does Google 'track you' any more than a telco does?"

      Last I heard your telco wasn't using the _content_ of your communications to choose which ads to serve you. I'm a total privacy zealot, and despite following all the news, was really rather surprised just this past week to see a news article say that gmail actually scrapes the content of your mail for targetted advertising. I myself find that beyond creepy in and of itself, let alone the more disturbing (though fundamentally no different) situation of a telco selling the words of a private conversation to advertisers in order for them to better psychologically profile you and thus serve you a more persuasive advertisement.

      Of course, we all know that becoming a telco is every companies wet dream, especially Google's.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Itninja ( 937614 )
        The only reason telcos don't do that is because there is no tech (yet) to do it cheaply and accurately. Even Google struggles with transcribing the human voice well.

        Personally I think Google has every right to do whatever they want on their servers. There are lots of legal precedents regarding how an employee has no 'reasonable expectation of privacy' when they are using a work PC, bandwidth, etc for personal surfing or email. Their employer has every right to monitor and record (including keystrokes) ever
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by smbarbour ( 893880 )

          Or at the very least sign out of Google before you go to www.hotunderagehorserape.com (god I hope that's not a real site).

          Under Rule #35, you are now legally required to create it.

      • really rather surprised just this past week to see a news article say that gmail actually scrapes the content of your mail for targetted advertising.

        Er, really? You been under a rock down a hole on an island on a different planet?

        This is years back - I remember getting an email from a friend and gmail was putting up weird adverts next to it. So weird that I actually noticed them and mentioned it to him, in a WTF kind of way.

        I forget the exact case, it was him that eventually worked it out. He'd accidenta

      • Re:Not new (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Monchanger ( 637670 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @03:30PM (#33468648) Journal

        I disagree on the creepy part, but that's a matter of opinion and we're all entitled to feel about Google as we do.

        You bring up a key thing about privacy that bothered me in this anti-Google propaganda: when the Schmidt caricature started revealing personal information about people to others in a way that was obviously harmful. Google has never proven to do serious harm even in an unintentional way, let alone as maliciously as portrayed.

        It's one thing to use collected information from you to display things on your own email screen. It's another to sell information about your interests to a third party and that's hardly a new practice, even if Google participates in this (which I've never heard of as far as Gmail is concerned). It's an altogether together a different thing to datamine embarrassing information about you and offer to sell that information to those you don't want knowing such things, which is simply the worst kind of fabricated hyperbole.

        Schmidt is criticized for having talked about the problem of people posting information they may not have wanted to later on, as if it's his fault for running a company who made it easy to discover such oversharing. But can I complain when sending an unencrypted email with baby pictures to my mother who lives halfway around the world, that Google switches my advertising from mountain biking to diapers as fair compensation for an email service I would use before any other? I can't do that in good conscience. It may not be something I appreciate if I'd rather keep getting the biking info, but I can't really call that creepy.

        Maybe it's simply a matter of trust I have that no humans are bothering to look at pictures of just one more baby, which others do not share. Maybe I don't actually do anything I shouldn't be doing, as Schmidt said, or anything I'm ashamed of and don't want told about to my face. I've never heard an actual reason for why people think it's "creepy" and bothers them. If someone can elaborate, I'd like to see what you have to say.

  • Who sponsors this? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by airfoobar ( 1853132 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:47PM (#33467982)
    I bet putting up "a 540-square-foot video billboard advertisement in Times Square, New York" costs a small fortune. So, where did a consumer group get that kind of money?
    No doubt, from a hostile company. But who? Microsoft? Apple? Viacom?
  • then these people have nothing to worry about privacy. The internet will be carved up into a unusable CompuServe like mess with nickel and dime plans similar to the crap cable tv bundle plans by the telecoms.
    • by jpapon ( 1877296 )

      The internet will be carved up into a unusable CompuServe like mess with nickel and dime plans similar to the crap cable tv bundle plans

      "Yeah, I used to get Youtube, but then my trial ran out and the monthly fee was just too hefty... I can't afford both it AND my social networking package"

  • Guess it's time to bring this post out, and update it:

    Dear Consumer Watchdog

    Your post advocates a

    ( ) technical ( X) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

    approach to fighting invasions of privacy. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    ( X) Those invading privacy can easily use it to target people who want to hide their info

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 03, 2010 @03:02PM (#33468234)

    Consumer Watchdog = troll sponsored by Microsoft. More here: http://techrights.org/2009/05/04/consumer-watchdog-exposed/

    • by Beerdood ( 1451859 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @05:29PM (#33470140)
      Just for kicks I went to consumerwatchdog.org and used their search engine to search on microsoft [consumerwatchdog.org]. Top 20 header results :

      1. There's no privacy in third world America - (anti-google article, no mention of bing)
      2. Top trustbuster says DOJ watching search industry
      3. Advocacy Groups Ask Facebook for More Privacy Changes
      4. Critics Call on Feds to Squelch a Google Monopoly
      5. Data Show Google Abuses Search Role, Group Contends
      6. Watchdog Backs Google Antitrust Complaint with (More) Data
      7. Google's Wi-Fi Data Harvest Facing More Probes, Lawsuits
      8. Google Using Search Engine To Muscle Into Internet Businesses, Study Finds
      9. Google Worth $1 Billion to Pa. Commerce
      10. Google Raises Its Game In Washington
      11. Google shows the way on search engine encryption; others must follow
      12. FTC Clears Google Purchase of Mobile Ad Service
      13. White House Reprimands Ex-Googler After Consumer Watchdog FOIA Request
      14. Few Hardballs from Shareholders at Google's Annual Meeting
      15. Google's Growth Markets Include Lobbying
      16. Consumer Watchdog Targets Google
      17. Privacy Groups, Business Firms Firing Warning Shots on New Online Ad Privacy Bill
      18. Boucher's Privacy Bill Scolded by Consumer Groups
      19. Google Spent $1.3 Million on Lobbying, What Are They Buying?
      20. Consumer Group to Call for Google Break up

      Damn, that's a lot of google mention for a search on microsoft. Hell, even on a search on facebook [consumerwatchdog.org]has "google" in 6 of the top 10 results returned! Facebook doesn't appear until the 11th result, and is in 5 of the headers. What a joke, this site makes fox news looks fair and balanced.
  • Did Microsoft Hire Consumer Watchdog to Attack Google? [techrights.org]

    That is a year old story. According to it, "consumer watchdog" is a hired gun.

    See that last bit? It’s important. Consumerwatchdog.org is linked to Grassroots.com, which is Grassroots Enterprise. ...

    Grassroots Enterprise is not about grassroots. It’s about AstroTurfing.....

    It’s a business. It hires people to do jobs for companies (clients).

  • BUSTED! (Score:5, Informative)

    by richtaur ( 1234738 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @03:10PM (#33468350) Homepage
    The company that ran this promotion (Consumer Watchdog) has been using Google Analytics. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/09/03/businessinsider-anti-google-privacy-group-consumer-watchdog-is-tracking-your-clicks-with-google-analytics-2010-9.DTL [sfgate.com] Hypocrite, much?
  • Even at her advanced age, Jamie Curtis is still a damned sight more attractive than Consumer Watchdog's president Jamie Court. How addled does a mind have to be to confuse the two?

  • by The Ultimate Fartkno ( 756456 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @03:56PM (#33469098)

    ...but the internet ceased a looooong time ago to be the wild and secretive jungle that we all remember and loved, and it's now a commercial enterprise. Period. I don't understand how people can get so outraged over Google's data-mining without starting long before that. Google, as evil as people think they might be, track *who you say you are*. Of a handful of Gmail accounts that I have, exactly one of them has any information at all that could be traced directly to me. The rest are throwaway accounts, as are my six or seven yahoo accounts, and I don't think I have a single other account anywhere in my own name other than Facebook. When my identity got stolen, computers had nothing to do with it. They either stole my mail or my trash, not my Gmail password. Why do people freak out so much about Google using keyword-targeted advertising that's completely run by a machine that cares not a whit who you are and spends its day searching for "hdtv" or "tentacle porn", but these same people have no problem whatsoever giving their name, address, phone number, credit card number, bank routing information, and direct access to every single byte that comes out of their computer to the phone companies that have proved over and over and *%&$ing over again that they simply DO NOT CARE about their customers and look at them as nothing more than money troughs? (Seriously? $.30 for a text message, but a 650K jpg is free? *^&$ you.) Where's the similar outrage at the telcos, who are less progressive than the MPAA and will roll over for a warrantless wiretap like a wiener dog with an itchy belly? Seriously. Did I miss something?

  • *cough* (Score:3, Informative)

    by deepthoughtless ( 1264016 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @08:53PM (#33471668)
  • by lessthan ( 977374 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:08PM (#33472150)

    Having the retailers tracking us, tailoring their products to our interests, it is part of our dream. We want robots to fetch us beer from the fridge and chairs that adjust to our bodies. How is retailers only showing stuff we're interested in any different? The chances of me clicking on an ad for tampons is vanishingly low, so why waste my time and their money to show me a tampon ad? Heck, I'd love for bricks-and-mortar stores to work like this. It seems like every time I go to buy new clothes, I have to walk through a mile of women's clothes. Do they really buy that much more clothing?

    I admit, the tracking sometimes can be a disadvantage. I looked at some socks online, about a week ago, and that is all my ads are since. All showing different types of socks.

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