Google Inc., announced it will insert a link and censor its logo on the search engine’s home page tomorrow to emphasize its opposition to U.S. anti-piracy bills in conjunction to rolling out a new campaign that promotes online privacy awareness.
Business Week reported the globally popular search engine is among many Internet companies that criticize the measures, claiming the bills could encourage online censorship and stunt the growth of the American technology industry.
The movie and music industries have experienced huge sale declines in recent years and subsequently support the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, music sales in the U.S. have dropped 47 percent, from $14.6 billion to $7.7 billion, since peer-to-peer file sharing emerged in 1999. Moreover, the Motion Picture Association of America released an info graphic (PDF) last year that claimed 29 million American adults by 2010 had downloaded illegal copies of film or television shows.
However, both bills —if passed— would be a means to prevent the sale of illegal content or counterfeit goods by websites operating outside United States borders…
“Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet,” said Google spokesperson Samantha Smith in a Jan. 17 email to Business Week. “So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our U.S. home page.”
Google’s foray into online activism does not stop with anti-piracy bills. The Google Public Policy Blog announced today that the search engine has taken aim at the importance of protecting personal information. The company will implement a nonstandard marketing campaign with advertisements that highlight its own privacy failings and procedures.
The “Good to Know” advertisements will roll out Tuesday in dozens of American newspapers, such as The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. Magazines, including Time and the New Yorker, will also feature the advertisements. Google even plans to display the message on various websites and across subway billboards in New York and Washington.
The marketing campaign will address the basics of identity theft, online privacy and security while including referrals to a website for more information. The issues tackled include steps required to protect online account passwords and computer coding usage to find and identify Web surfers.
According to the FTC, over 9 million victims experience identity theft in the U.S. every year. Statistics suggest that the average loss to a business is $4,800, while the average loss to an individual is $500.
Google knows all-too-well about the gaucheries of personal information safety. The company exposed personal contacts of its email users in 2010 when it launched a social service called “Buzz.” The blunder led to a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that required Google to submit to external audits of its privacy policies every other year.
“This campaign should be nominated for some kind of award for fiction,” said Executive Director of the Center for Digital Democracy Jeff Chester to the Associated Press. “If grades were given out for privacy protection, Google would get a D plus.”
The AP said the total bill for the “Good to Know” advertisements will cost the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company ’tens of millions’ dollars.
For more information on the campaign, go to Google’s “Good to Know” website. An informative video from the campaign on viruses and malware is available below.