NEWS6 September 2010

Privacy group lobbies for do-not-track list with anti-Google ad

Data analytics North America

US— Privacy advocates at Consumer Watchdog are hoping to drum up support for an online do-not-track list with a 540 sq ft digital ad campaign in Times Square, New York.

The animated ad depicts Google CEO Eric Schmidt offering free ice cream to children while at the same time collecting their personal information.

The 16-second ad, which is running 36 times a day, hopes to encourage viewers to call their congressional representatives to lobby for the introduction of a do-not-track list, which would prevent companies such as Google from capturing information about browsing habits from those who sign up.

Such a list may be unworkable in practice, but at a recent Senate hearing Federal Trade Commissioner Jon Leibowitz said a do-not-track “mechanism” was just “one idea” the FTC “may explore” as part of efforts to make it easier for consumers to manage their privacy online and for companies to be more transparent in how they use personal data.

Consumer Watchdog has produced a longer version of the ad, available online, in which one of the children is shown being “scanned” for personal information by “Google Analytics” – the name of the search engine’s free web analytics package.

This scene (pictured), however, has opened up Consumer Watchdog to charges of hypocrisy following reports that the organisation’s website,, uses Google Analytics to monitor and analyse visitor behaviour.

Others have also questioned the organisation’s decision to host the video on YouTube, a Google-owned site.