THE BLOG
09/02/2010 07:36 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Taking The "Do Not Track Me" Fight to Google in Times Square

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Right now, running twice an hour in Times Square, there's a 540 sq. ft. animation of Google CEO Eric Schmidt giving little kids free ice cream and secretly gathering their personal information. It's promoting a one minute, avatar-style animated short titled Don't Be Evil? that can be watched at InsideGoogle.com.

Do you want Google or any other online company looking over your shoulder and tracking your every move just so it can increase its profits? Consumers have a right to privacy. They should control how their information is gathered and what it is used for. This is a huge issue for the American middle class, and government is in a position to deliver a solution easily and quickly. The president and Congress just need to find the will.

Consumer Watchdog is satirizing Schmidt in the most highly-trafficked public square in the nation to make the public aware of how out of touch Schmidt and Google are when it comes to our privacy rights and to make a case for national privacy reform.

Schmidt is out of control. When questioned about privacy, he has said, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." Recently, he suggested children could change their names when they got older if they wanted to escape what was embarrassing and public in their online lives.

We think there should be another way to protect the public's online privacy: a 'Do Not Track Me' list that prevents Google or any other Internet company from tracking your every move online.

Google's motto is "Don't be evil," but recent actions reveal that the Internet giant has lost its way. Google has collected massive personal data from Wi-Fi networks through its Street View cars, made private Gmail contacts publicly available on Buzz, and done a complete about-face on net-neutrality, joining with Verizon in calling for toll lanes on the Internet.

Google poses a serious threat to our privacy, and this animation is meant to put a spotlight on the need for Congress to enact a national 'Do Not Track Me' list. You can sign the petition to tell Congress to create such a list here.

A 'Do Not Track Me' list would prevent online companies from gathering our personal information, just as Congress had the Federal Trade Commission create a Do Not Call list to prevent intrusive telemarketers from invading consumers' privacy.

Privacy protection is overwhelming popular. 80% of Americans support a 'Do Not Track Me' list according to a recent InsideGoogle.com poll.

Creating a 'Do Not Track Me' list would be an easy win for a president in search of populist victories. The concept is gaining traction in DC, and the Federal Trade Commission is rumored to be taking up the issue this fall.

Google has shown a complete lack of proportion and perspective about our privacy. It's time for the government to step in and set Google and other online companies straight. Privacy is personal, not business, and it must be respected. With the American middle class under siege, a "Do Not Track Me" list would be an inexpensive gift that the public will remember in the mid-term election and beyond.

Jamie Court is author of the The Progressive's Guide To Raising Hell: How To Win Grassroots Campaigns, Pass Ballot Box Laws and Get The Change You Voted For (Chelsea Green, September 2010)

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