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Mimes aren't silent in Capitol Hill attack on Google

Consumer Watchdog dispatches a group of mimes to playfully spy on government workers to illustrate what they say is Google's antiprivacy behavior.

People flee before the Google-bashing mimes. Greg Sandoval/CNET

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Staffers in the U.S. Senate were spied on today, but not by any one of our country's enemies. They were tailed by that most unholy of creatures: the mime.

To illustrate Google's alleged data-collection abuses, Consumer Watchdog, a vocal advocacy group and longtime Google critic hired a group of mimes to playfully spy on Senate staffers and visitors around the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Dressed in matching track suits with the words "Google Track Team" and "Don't be evil," written on them, the mimes peered over people's shoulders at their work and as they ate their lunches wearing ogle goggles.

The idea of course was to demonstrate the uncomfortable feeling of being watched. Consumer Watchdog maintains that Google peeps into people's private lives, but does it via its enormous power on the Internet. They timed their display for the same day that Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was due to testify in a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on antitrust.

The hearing was titled: "The Power of Google: Serving Consumers or Threatening Competition."

"I just want to get to my desk," said one Dirksen worker.

Another staffer noted as the mimes hammed it up for the cameras just outside a crowded elevator bank: "This looks obnoxious."

Others seemed delighted by the distraction the mimes offered.

Consumer Watchdog says that privacy and Google's ability to pry into the lives of anyone is a growing concern among the public. CNET colleague Jay Greene wrote that this week the group's primary concern is that Google is gathering a huge trove of personal information, much of it without consumers' knowledge and consumers are powerless to stop it.

More to come