Obama Administration Hypocritical on Internet Privacy

According to a front-page Wall Street Journal story today, the Obama Administration is “preparing a stepped-up approach to policing internet privacy,” including the creation of a new watchdog agency. Ironically, this comes in the wake of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) dropping its investigation of the Google “WiSpy” operation just days after the President attended a fundraiser at the home of a Google executive.

As part of its “Street View” data collection activities, Google cars collected passwords, e-mails and other personal information wirelessly from unsuspecting people in several countries. The government should get to the bottom of this massive invasion of personal privacy before the administration talks about setting up new agencies.

Google has unusual influence in this administration. Establishing additional safeguards for internet privacy are a joke as long as present enforcement mechanisms are subject to political pressure and manipulation.

As we have documented through White House emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Google operatives within the administration like White House Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin have shown favoritism to Google and maintained improper contact with Google lobbyists. In addition, the same emails showed Google lobbyists sought to influence FTC privacy policy.

The Federal Communications Commission announced earlier this week is investigating whether Google’s “WiSpy” activities violated the Communications Act. The Administration should make sure this investigation goes forward, free of political interference.


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