Consumer Advocacy Group Takes Its Anti-Google Message To Times Square

A consumer advocacy group is running an animated ad on a Times Square jumbotron that attacks Google for its privacy practices.

The 15-second advertisement running on the 540-square-foot screen promotes a video that Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog created portraying Google CEO Eric Schmidt as an ice cream truck driver who secretly spies on children.

The video and the Times Square advertisement are part of Consumer Watchdog's "Do Not Track Me" campaign that advocates privacy protection measures such as preventing online companies from tracking personal information without a consumer's explicit approval, creation of a national "Do Not Track Me" list, and banning online companies from collecting personal data on children.

A Consumer Watchdog press release said that despite its "Don't be evil" motto, Google appears to have "lost its way" in protecting online privacy. As evidence the statement pointed to the online search giant's recent actions, including collecting personal data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks while developing its Street View service, and making private Gmail contacts public through the company's Buzz social networking site.

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"We're 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," said Jamie Court, Consumer Watchdog president, in the statement.

Consumer Watchdog did not disclose the cost of the animated ad that's running 36 times a day through Oct. 15.

The video shows Schmidt offering children free ice cream, then conducting full body scans of the children who accept. The animated short can be viewed at Consumer Watchdog's Inside Google Web site while the 15-second ad running in Times Square can be seen – ironically enough – here on YouTube, which is owned by Google.