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Major Internet Group Supports ‘National’ Data Privacy Approach

Many privacy advocates have called for robust new U.S. data protections.

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A man holds up his iPhone during a rally in support of data privacy outside the Apple Store in San Francisco. VOA

A group representing major internet companies including Facebook, Amazon.com and Alphabet said on Tuesday it backed modernizing U.S. data privacy rules but wants a national approach that would preempt California’s new regulations that take effect in 2020.

The Internet Association, a group representing more than 40 major internet and technology firms including Netflix, Microsoft and Twitter, said “internet companies support an economy-wide, national approach to regulation that protects the privacy of all Americans.”

The group said it backed principles that would ensure consumers should have “meaningful controls over how personal information they provide” is used and should be able to know who it is being shared with.

Consumers should also be able to seek deletion of data or request corrections or take personal information to another company that provides similar services and have reasonable access to the personal information they provide, it said.

The group also told policymakers they should give companies flexibility in notifying individuals, set a “performance standard” on privacy and data security protections that avoids a prescriptive approach and set national data breach notification rules.

Data Privacy
Internet companies support an economy-wide, national approach to regulation that protects the privacy of all Americans. VOA

Michael Beckerman, president and chief executive officer of the Internet Association, said in an interview the proposals were “very forward looking and very aggressive” and would push to ensure the new rules apply “economy wide.”

He said the group “would be very active working with both the administration and Congress on putting pen to paper.”

The Internet Association wants new rules to be technology and sector neutral, which would mean any new privacy protections would cover anything from how grocery stores or other physical retailers use consumer data to car rental, airlines or credit card firms as well as internet service providers.

The White House said in July it was working to develop consumer data privacy policies and officials had been meeting major firms as it looked to eventually seeing the policies enshrined in legislation.

Data privacy has become an increasingly important issue, fueled by massive breaches that have compromised the personal information of millions of U.S. internet and social media users.

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A rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. Wikimedia Commons

California Governor Jerry Brown signed data privacy legislation in June aimed at giving consumers more control over how companies collect and manage their personal information, although it was not as stringent as Europe’s new rules.

Beckerman said “we definitely want to get this in place prior to California because California got it wrong.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also unveiled privacy principles last week that aim to reverse California’s new rules.

Under the law, large companies would be required from 2020 to let consumers view the data they have collected on them, request deletion of data, and opt out of having the data sold to third parties.

Many privacy advocates have called for robust new U.S. data protections.

Also Read: Cuba Gets Nationwide Internet For A Day

Laura Moy, deputy director at Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology, told Congress in July that lawmakers should not overturn new state privacy rules and federal agencies “must be given more powerful regulatory tools and stronger enforcement authority” and more resources.

The European Union General Data Protection Regulation took effect in May, replacing the bloc’s patchwork of rules dating back to 1995. (VOA)

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Google Opens Center in Germany to Curb Data Privacy Issues

Staff will work with Google privacy specialists in other cities to build products for use around the world, Pichai said

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FILE -Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the keynote address of the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., May 7, 2019. VOA

Google opened a privacy focused engineering center in Munich, Germany, on Tuesday, its latest move to beef up its data protection credentials as tech companies’ face growing scrutiny of their data collection issues.

CEO Sundar Pichai said the Silicon Valley tech giant is expanding its operations in the southern German city, including doubling the number of data privacy engineers there to more than 200 by the end of 2019.

The new Google Safety Engineering Center will make Munich a global hub for the company’s “cross-product privacy engineering efforts,” Pichai said in a blog post.

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Staff will work with Google privacy specialists in other cities to build products for use around the world, Pichai said. Pixabay

Staff will work with Google privacy specialists in other cities to build products for use around the world, Pichai said, adding that Munich engineers built the Google Account control panel as well as privacy and security features for the Chrome browser.

ALSO READ: Instagram Putting an End to its Standalone Messaging App ‘Direct’

Data privacy and security at Google and its tech rivals including Facebook are increasingly in the spotlight. Both companies dedicated much of their annual developer conferences last week to privacy, with Google unveiling new tools giving people more control over how they’re being tracked while Facebook outlined plans to connect people though more private channels. (VOA)