New cartoon: Mr. Schmidt goes to Washington

Faith Merino · January 26, 2011 · Short URL:

Consumer Watchdog creates a cartoon to lobby Conrgess to call Schmidt for questioning

In an effort to lobby Congress to call Google CEO (soon to be former CEO) Eric Schmidt to testify under oath about Google’s personal data-gathering activities, Consumer Watchdog has created a very creepy yet strangely cute cartoon called “Mr. Schmidt Goes to Washington.”  The cartoon features an animated “evil genius” Eric Schmidt avatar who attempts to hypnotize the court using goofy high-tech goggles, with dialogue that derives exclusively from excerpts of Schmidt’s real-life statements on Google’s stance on online privacy.

The cartoon will be displayed on a sound-equipped mobile digital advertising truck that will tour Capitol Hill, downtown, and several busy district thoroughfares.  So essentially it will be a flashier version of those vans you always see parked in front of the state capitol that are scrawled with warnings of Biblical doom if Policy X isn’t repealed.

The organization specifically wants congress to question Schmidt on the Google street view cars that collected data (inadvertently, according to Google) for three years from millions of Wi-Fi connected households across 30 nations.  The incident, says Consumer Watchdog, was the “largest wiretapping scandal in history.”

“We are using Mr. Schmidt's own words in this satire to dramatize how outrageous it is that Congress has failed to question one of the most powerful CEOs in America after he has shown such disregard for our personal privacy and his company has committed the largest wire-tapping breach in history," said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, in a prepared statement.  The organization could not be reached for comment.

The quotes came primarily from Schmidt’s interview with Atlantic editor James Bennet at the Washington Ideas Forum, where he delivered an unfortunate slew of creepy quotes, including:

"We have what I call the creepy line.  Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it,” he said jokingly when asked about the prospect of Google creating a brain implant that can predict your search terms.

He followed that up with:

"With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches.”

And the topper: "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less now what you're thinking about."

Nice.  It doesn’t help that Google spent $5.2 million on lobbying last year, up from $4.03 million in 2009.  But that could also be the result of the federal government becoming increasingly suspicious of Google’s activities and probing deeper into the company.

Schmidt addressed Google’s relationship with lawmakers at last week’s Q4 earnings call.   “One big problem is that lots of people don’t know what we do and what we don’t do, and some of our competitors are assisting in that misinformation.  Regulators have a job to do and we’re all for that, but a lot of stuff we do is actually pro-competitive,” he said. 

It isn't entirely clear what kind of results Consumer Watchdog is hoping for if Schmidt is called to testify (if Schmidt is the evil mastermind the cartoon portrays him to be, a couple of laws aren't going to stop him).  Check out the video below:

And see the real interview here:

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