Google says it would support U.S. privacy law

WASHINGTON Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:34pm BST

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt speaks during a news conference in Beijing March 17, 2008. REUTERS/Grace Liang

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt speaks during a news conference in Beijing March 17, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Grace Liang

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Google has told a senior U.S Republican lawmaker concerned about privacy that the Internet search and advertising company supports a federal privacy law.

Privacy advocates object to the amount of information that Google, Yahoo and other online companies collect about users. Google, in particular, has been under pressure to post a link on its home page to its privacy policy.

Texas Rep. Joe Barton, the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote to Google in May asking for details about the search engine's privacy practices since it acquired competitor DoubleClick.

Google told Barton in a letter dated June 6 that it would support creation of a federal Internet privacy law. A copy of the letter was obtained by Reuters on Tuesday.

"Google supports the adoption of a comprehensive federal privacy law that would accomplish several goals such as building consumer trust and protections; creating a uniform framework for privacy, which would create consistent levels of privacy from one jurisdiction to another; and putting penalties in place to punish and dissuade bad actors," the letter said. It was signed by Alan Davidson, Google's chief lobbyist.

Google's Chief Executive Eric Schmidt and Barton met last November, and two of Barton's aides went to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California in December to discuss privacy.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, was sceptical of Google's endorsement of a federal privacy law. Rotenberg said that when companies push for a "comprehensive" law, they often want something that would preempt more stringent state laws.

"We do not want the states to have their hands tied," he said Rotenberg, citing California and New York as examples of states with tough privacy laws.

(Editing by Toni Reinhold)

(Diane.Bartz@Thomsonreuters.com; +1 202 898 8313))

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