by Kristin Burnham

“Do Not Track” List Pushed by Privacy Watchdog Group

Sep 07, 2010
Enterprise Applications

A watchdog group got Google CEO Eric Schmidt's attention when it ran an animated clip of him as a creepy ice cream man.

Consumer Watchdog’s made a bold statement last week in New York City’s Times Square: the purchase of a 540-square-foot Jumbotron to display an animated video satirizing Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s attitude toward consumer privacy.’s “Don’t Be Evil?”

The video portrays a villainous (and really creepy) Schmidt driving an ice cream truck and luring children with free treats. Schmidt then asks the unsuspecting kids to “hold still” as he collects some of their “secrets.” And if there’s anything you don’t want anyone to know, well, you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place, Schmidt’s character says. Remember, you can’t believe everything your parents say about privacy.

The Consumer Watchdog group says it produced the animated short to shed light on the need for Congress to enact a national “Do Not Track Me” list for online behavior. This would prevent companies like Google from gathering personal information—similar to the FTC’s “Do Not Call” list. This was prompted by some of Google’s recent activities: collecting personal data from Wi-Fi networks through its Street View cars; making private Gmail contacts public via Buzz; and its stance on net neutrality.

Google, today, announced it will simplify and update its privacy policies. This will include deleting 12 product-specific policies, cutting and rewriting redundant and legalistic bits in its main privacy policy to make it more user-friendly, adding more content to some of its Help Centers and creating a new privacy tools page that contains the most popular tools used to manage your privacy.

Google’s announcement, however, falls short of Consumer Watchdog’s do-not-track proposal. In Google’s statement, it makes clear that it is not currently changing any of its privacy practices.

Could approval of a “Do Not Track Me” list be on the horizon? According to The New York Times, it is being actively discussed within the FTC. And it appears the public would be onboard, too: A poll conducted by Grove Insight announced that 86 percent are in favor of an “anonymous button” that would allow individuals to stop anyone from tracking their online searches or purchases. Likewise, 84 percent would like to prevent online companies from tracking personal information or Web searches without a user’s explicit, written approval.

Do you think Google is doing enough to keep your information private, or does Congress need to step in? Would you in favor of a “Do Not Track Me” list?

Kristin Burnham covers Consumer Technology, SaaS, Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Kristin at