Two weeks ago, a German political activist group launched a parody website poking fun at Google’s products with the goal of raising awareness about the company’s privacy policies.
The group, called Peng Collective, succeeded in spreading the word — but Google wasn’t happy about it.
Google asked that the Peng Collective revise the website and assign the domain name to Google.
Peng Collective complied, and it’s now just a watered-down version of what it was before.
The spoof site, called Google-Nest, included advertisements for a handful of phony products that poke fun at the company’s general branding.
Each product parodies Google’s methods of collecting data and the issues that arise from living in an almost completely digital world.
For example, Google Hug is a parody service that location-based social interaction tool for finding hugs. It mocks the fact that people don’t interact face-to-face anymore.
Google Bye collects data about you throughout your life to compile a social media profile after you’re dead. Google Bee is a personal drone that “watches over your house and family” and can record you from a sky-high vantage point up to 1,200 feet.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EEF), a nonprofit organisation dedicated to defending civil liberties on the web, wrote a response to Google, claiming that Peng! had every right to use Google’s name and logo under the fair use doctrine.
Here’s what EEF said in a blog post on their website concerning its response:
EEF responded to Google on Peng’s behalf, explaining what should be obvious: the site was pure noncommercial political commentary. Trademark owners should not and cannot punish activists simply because they happen to use trademarks in the course of that kind of commentary.
In the end, Peng! revised its website to meet Google’s demands, but did not hand over its domain. EEF concluded that the organisation reached its goal of spreading awareness regarding Google’s privacy policies. The term #googlenest trended on Twitter in Germany for five hours in its first day, and numerous news outlets covered the satirical site following its launch.
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