Simpson, John

John M. Simpson writes on many consumer and public policy issues for the Consumer Watchdog, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. He is a veteran journalist who held top editing positions at international, national and community newspapers. Most recently he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. He was previously deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition.

Driverless Vehicle Regs Must Protect Users' Privacy

By John Simpson

I was up in Sacramento recently to call on the Department of Motor Vehicles to ensure that the regulations that they are developing to govern the use of autonomous vehicles – popularly known as driverless cars –will protect the operators’ privacy.

The company that will be most directly affected by the new autonomous vehicle regulations is Google, which is pioneering development of the robot-driven cars. The Internet giant was the driving force behind SB 1298, which charged the DMV with the task of developing the regulations and also rebuffed attempts to require privacy protections in the law.

California AG Takes Lead In Cybersecurity

By John M. Simpson

Consumer Watchdog

Data breaches at major retailers Target and Neiman Marcus during last year's holiday shopping season affected more than 100 million people and focused new attention on the need to protect person information stored online.

While it's clear that tough data breach legislation must be enacted, California Attorney General Kamala Harris is taking action to improve cybersecurity in the state before new laws are passed. She recently released recommendations to California businesses to help protect against- and respond to- the increasing threats of malware, data breaches and other cyber risks.

Google Gets Antitrust Ultimatum from FTC

By John M. Simpson

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz has given Google what Bloomberg News Service describes as an ultimatum to settle the agency's antitrust investigation in the next few days or face a lawsuit.

Citing unidentified sources, Bloomberg reporter Sara Forden on Monday wrote:

"Google has been in discussions with the agency for about two weeks and hasn’t put any remedy proposals on the table, said the people, who declined to be identified because the negotiations are private."

FTC Estimates Google's Privacy Hack Earned Up To $4 Million

By John M. Simpson

One of the things you hear when companies try to minimize the impact of privacy violations is an attempt to claim there was no financial harm to consumers. However, in an interesting development the Federal Trade Commission is now publicly estimating that Google's hack around Apple's Safari browser privacy settings earned the Internet giant up to $4 million.

Governor Brown Should Veto Google's Driverless Car Bill

By John M. Simpson

California Governor Jerry Brown should veto a bill that allows Google's driverless cars on the highway, because it does not provide adequate privacy protections for users of the new technology. SB 1298, authored by Sen. Alex Padilla, was passed unanimously by the Senate. However, as explained in Consumer Watchdog's letter to the Governor, SB 1298 is completely insufficient. It gives the user no control over what data will be gathered and how the information will be used.