Google to acknowledge privacy mistakes as U.S. seeks input
(Adds PIX for file photos, no other changes)
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Leading internet search
engine Google will acknowledge that it has made "mistakes" on
privacy issues in testimony an executive of the Alphabet Inc
unit will deliver to a U.S. Senate committee on
Wednesday, according to a document reviewed by Reuters.
"We acknowledge that we have made mistakes in the past, from
which we have learned, and improved our robust privacy program,"
Google chief privacy officer Keith Enright will say in written
testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee. Google will
testify alongside AT&T Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Apple
Inc and other companies amid growing concerns about
Google’s written testimony did not identify specific prior
mistakes but the company has come under fire for privacy issues.
In 2012, Google agreed to pay a then record $22.5 million
civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it
misrepresented to Apple Safari Internet browser users that it
would not place tracking "cookies" or serve them targeted ads.
A year earlier, Google agreed to an FTC privacy settlement
and regular privacy audits for 20 years after the government
charged it used deceptive tactics and violating consumer privacy
promises when it launched its social network, Google Buzz.
In August, Alphabet was sued and accused of illegally
tracking movements of millions of iPhone and Android phone users
even when they use a privacy setting to prevent it.
The U.S. Commerce Department said it was seeking comments on
how to set nationwide data privacy rules in the wake of tough
new requirements adopted by the European Union and California.
Also, the Justice Department said it held a "listening
session" with state attorneys general on how the government can
safeguard consumers online.
Senate Commerce committee chairman John Thune wrote that
Congress must work on enshrining consumer data privacy
protections into law.
Congress has questions about how internet companies sell
advertising and use data from email accounts or other services.
Thune wrote in The Hill newspaper that "mounting controversies"
have fed doubt that tech companies can "regulate themselves and
enforce real privacy safeguards for the collection and use of
our digital data."
Massive breaches of data privacy have compromised personal
information of millions of U.S. internet and social media users,
including notable breaches at large retailers and credit
reporting agency Equifax Inc.
Enright's testimony says "with advertising, as with all our
products, users trust us to keep their personal information
confidential and under their control. We do not sell personal
Andrew DeVore, an Amazon vice president, will tell the
committee that new European privacy rules "required us to divert
significant resources to administrative and record-keeping tasks
and away from inventing new features for customers."
Twitter data protection officer Damien Kieran will urge
development of "a robust privacy framework that protects
individuals’ rights ... while preserving the freedom to
The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and
Information Administration (NTIA) this summer held more than 50
meetings with tech companies, internet providers, privacy
advocates and others, hoping to develop a national standard.
The Internet Association, which represents more than 40
internet and technology companies, said this month it backed
modernizing data privacy rules with a national approach that
would pre-empt California data privacy regulations taking effect
California Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation aimed
at giving consumers more control over how companies collect and
manage their personal information. New rules in Europe are even
The European Union General Data Protection Regulation took
effect in May. Breaking privacy laws can now result in fines of
up to 4 percent of global revenue or 20 million euros ($23.2
million), whichever is higher, as opposed to a few hundred
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by David Gregorio)
First Published: 2018-09-25 17:59:36
Updated 2018-09-25 22:56:53
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