Privacy group paints Google evil

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Privacy group paints Google evil

The ice cream van deviant?

Privacy advocates in the US have paid for a 160 square metre billboard advertisement on Times Square New York portraying Google's chief executive Eric Schmidt as a green-eyed ice-cream van deviant.

The attack on Schmidt, sponsored by Consumer Watchdog, came as Google agreed to pay US$8.5 million ($9.2 million) to settle the class action suit against it over its Buzz launch, which used Gmail contact lists to automatically add new members to its social network.

Consumer Watchdog wants Congress to introduce a Do Not Track list, akin to Australia's Do Not Call register, to prevent online marketing companies tracking consumers' web habits.

"We're satirising 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," Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, said in a statement.

US Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz recently told a Senate Committee that a Do Not Track law should be introduced.

Consumer Watchdog criticised Google for its Street View WiFi data harvest and took Schmidt to task over recent comments that teenagers should be able to change their names if they wanted to escape embarrassing moments captured online.

On Friday Google's lawyers vowed to simplify the company's privacy policies.

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