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Privacy Watchdog Condemns Google for Effort to Defund it: Calls for Greater Corporate Disclosure About Lobbying Efforts and Independent Privacy Chief
Date:2/23/2009

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court wrote Google's CEO Eric Schmidt today questioning the company's priorities following efforts by one of Google's top executives to dissuade a charitable foundation from supporting the nonpartisan group's privacy efforts.

"We have tried to constructively engage Google on its privacy problems for about six months now," Court wrote. "So it's remarkable that Google's most rapid and substantive response to our privacy concerns is a letter from your director of Corporate and Policy Communications to the charity funding our work seeking an end to its support.

"One would think Google's top executives have more important priorities than defunding a consumer group critical of your lack of privacy protections. Nonetheless I am writing to offer some observations about Google's less than open corporate culture, its opaque public policymaking division and some suggestions for change and moving forward."

Consumer Watchdog recommended that Google should openly disclose all its lobbying positions on Capitol Hill and create a Chief Privacy Ombudsman, independent of its corporate structure and general counsel, that reports directly to Schmidt and the board of directors.

Bob Boorstin, Google's Director of Corporate and Policy Communications, recently wrote to the Rose Foundation complaining of Consumer Watchdog's efforts: "Most recently, they accused our company -- without any evidence whatsoever and actually referencing 'a rumored lobbying effort' in a press release -- of trying to obtain permission to sell patient medical records. I am hoping that as you consider the activities of your grantees and whether to renew your commitments, you will take these kinds of activities into account and consider whether there might be better groups in which to place your trust and resources. I would like permission from you to address a
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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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