Google’s Eric Schmidt Shown as Perverter of Privacy on Times Square Jumbotron

Eric Schmidt Jumbotron

Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto has become increasingly controversial in the past year as the Internet giant made private GMail contacts public with Google Buzz, collected personal information from Wi-Fi networks in Street View vehicles, and most recently teamed with with Verizon to hammer out questionable net neutrality policies. While it’s possible (and maybe even probable) that none of this was done with malicious intent, Google’s capacity to invade our privacy is scary. That’s why Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, took to Times Square this week to protest Google’s privacy invasions.

Consumer Watchdog’s Times Square ad, which is visible on the 540-square-foot Jumbotron, portrays Google CEO Eric Schmidt as a creepy character in a Google-branded ice cream truck that drives down a street while collecting personal information from children. Text at the bottom encourages viewers to text a telephone number for more information (spoiler: the text results in a reply asking for your name and email address to “help stop Google from invading your online privacy!”).

It’s a move that will draw attention to Google’s ham-handed privacy blunders from people who might not have otherwise been aware of them. That’s a good thing for consumers, but Google might want to gear up for damage control. Check out Consumer Watchdog’s full investigation into Google here, and watch the Times Square ad below.


Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.AS