Satire No. 1: Eric Schmidt, Google and Your Digital Exhaust

Is Google Evil? What secrets do your family members hold? What does Google actually know about you based on your digital exhaust? Is there a difference between having something to hide and some things not being anyone’s business?

Consumer Watchdog has created an animation that shows Google CEO Eric Schmidt driving an ice cream truck around, giving kids “free” ice cream so he can lure them near the truck to run body scans and thereby gather their personal data.

Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog writes in their blog that they have the animation “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.” He also writes:

We put up the ad to make the public aware of how out of touch Schmidt and Google are when it comes to our privacy rights.

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.

Google’s motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” but recent actions reveal that the Internet giant has lost its way: it has collected hoards of personal data from Wi-Fi networks through its Street View cars; it has made private Gmail contacts publicly available on Buzz; it has done a complete about-face on net-neutrality, joining with Verizon in calling for toll lanes on the Internet.

The group has previously posted the Social Security Numbers of public officials to make the case for greater financial privacy. Now, this organization is advocating for a “Do Not Track Me” list, similar to the “Do Not Call” lists citizens can sign up for with regards to telemarketing calls.

The video’s depiction of Eric Schmidt as some kind of creepy pedophile is not without controversy. I read through some of the comments on the video, and there are mixed reactions to the method used to address the Internet privacy issue. The video definitely has impact, but creating it and running it in Times Square certainly wasn’t inexpensive. I can think of more productive, albeit less controversial, methods for addressing the privacy problem.

What do you think of Consumer’s Watchdog’s efforts to educate people about taming their online data privacy?

[Via @zephoria on Twitter on September 3, 2010.]

Please let me know what you think....