In a biting work of satire, the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog has a new video out depicting Google CEO Eric Schmidt in an unflattering light. In the CGI video, a malevolent-looking Schmidt attracts little children with free ice cream while secretly giving them full-body scans. As they clamor for his ice cream, a green-eyed Schmidt snickers:
I already know your favorite flavors. Hold still while we collect some of your secrets. And if there is anything you don't want anyone to know, well you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.
The ad finishes with a voice-over asking viewers to contact their members of congress to establish a "Do Not Track Me" list for web users. Is the ad in good taste?
- Schmidt Had This Coming, writes Ms. Smith at Network World:
When questioned about privacy, Schmidt can't seem to stop saying utterly ridiculous things which come back to bite him. A prime example was when Schmidt stated, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Recently Schmidt's comments to the Wall Street Journal suggested that children may want to change their names when they grow up to escape the embarrassing online mistakes of their youth that will have been recorded on social networking sites. Schmidt also predicted that Google will know so much about its users that they will want Google "to tell them what they should be doing next."
- This Ad Goes Too Far, writes Clint Boulton at eWeek: "Any time you put a middle-aged man with an evil grin like that in an ice cream truck surrounded by children, it's going to connote unsavory deeds... I like to believe most of us have more important things to worry about than how Internet companies are targeting us with advertising, but some folks treat it as the bane of our online existence. While privacy has all the hues of a rainbow these days when it comes to Web services, I'm definitely a black and white guy on this front. I don't mind if Google collects data on me, or what I buy. It's how the data is used that matters to me. If it's used to depict me in an unflattering light and makes me be someone I'm not, or if the data was made public to all, I'd be upset and shun Google. But I refuse to live in fear of that. If the data is used to depict more accurate ads, that's fine. I hardly notice the ads."
- It's Completely Misleading, writes Kashmir Hill at Forbes: "The premise of the video is that Schmidt is forcing information gleaned from their parents’ online activity on these innocent children. The scenario, though, that prompted this video and concerns groups like Consumer Watchdog is that Ice Cream Man Schmidt is selling his creamy digital data delicacies to advertisers so that they can more effectively market to Google’s users. So the naive children would be the knowing advertisers in the real world version of this. The video simply doesn’t make sense — it seems Consumer Watchdog just wanted an excuse to portray Schmidt as a pervy villain preying on children."