New Yorkers couldn’t miss the Orwellian message of this Consumer Watchdog ad attacking Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his company’s Internet privacy policies. A short version of the ad ran repeatedly Sept. 2 on a 540-square-foot JumboTron screen looming over Times Square.
The ad urges citizens to ask Congress for a “Do Not Track Me” list similar to the “Do Not Call” list that seeks to limit the intrusiveness of telemarketers. An official with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission told the New York Times that the FTC is considering the idea. As the wags at This Week in Google pointed out, this capability already exists: turn off the cookies option in your browser.
For the record, Google responded to the ad with this statement:
We like ice cream as much as anyone, but we like privacy even more. That’s why we provide tools for users to control their privacy online, like Google Dashboard, Ads Preference Manager, Chrome incognito mode and ‘off the record’ Gmail chat. You can check out these tools at google.com/privacy
Coverage by the NYT and BBC did not discuss where Consumer Watchdog gets its funding, but TWIG suggests that the group may have a less than transparent connection to Microsoft. The Techrights blog claims the group is an astroturf operation (yes, that means fake grassroots) hosted by Edelman.
I honestly don’t know where the creepiness begins and ends here. Even George Orwell would have a hard time fingering the Biggest Brother in this game.