Apple, Google, Twitter execs to talk privacy before Senate panel

Apple, Google, Twitter execs to talk privacy before Senate panel

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is hoping Congress can come up with a new set of national rules governing how companies can use consumers’ data that finds a balance between “privacy and prosperity.” But it will be tricky to reconcile the concerns of privacy advocates who want people to have more control over the usage of their personal data — where they’ve been, what they view, who their friends are —and the powerful companies that mine it for profit. Executives of a half-dozen U.S. internet titans are due to appear Wednesday before the Senate Commerce Committee to explain their privacy policies. Senior executives from AT&T, Amazon, Apple, Google, Twitter and Charter Communications are expected to testify at the hearing, amid increasing anxiety over safeguarding consumers’ data online and recent scandals that have stoked outrage among users and politicians. Get the Good Morning Silicon Valley newsletter Technology news and analysis from Silicon Valley delivered weekdays Sign Up! “These companies make their money off consumer data.” What is needed, privacy advocates maintain, is legislation to govern the entire “life cycle” of consumers’ data: how it’s collected, used, kept, shared and sold. A similar law in California will compel companies to tell customers upon request what personal data they’ve collected, why it was collected and what types of third parties have received it. Companies will be able to offer discounts to customers who allow their data to be sold and to charge those who opt out a reasonable amount, based on how much the company makes selling the information. The California law doesn’t take effect until 2020 and applies only to California consumers, but it could have fallout effects on other states. “A strong national baseline creates clear rules for companies.” The Trump White House said this summer that the administration is working on it, meeting with companies and other interested parties. The goal is a policy “that is the appropriate balance between privacy and prosperity,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said.

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is hoping Congress can come up with a new set of national rules governing how companies can use consumers’ data that finds a balance between “privacy and prosperity.”

But it will be tricky to reconcile the concerns of privacy advocates who want people to have more control over the usage of their personal data — where they’ve been, what they view, who their friends are —and the powerful companies that mine it for profit.

Executives of a half-dozen U.S. internet titans are due to appear Wednesday before the Senate Commerce Committee to explain their privacy policies. Senior executives from AT&T, Amazon, Apple, Google, Twitter and Charter Communications are expected to testify at the hearing, amid increasing anxiety over safeguarding consumers’ data online and recent scandals that have stoked outrage among users and politicians.

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But the approach to privacy legislation being pondered by policymakers and pushed by the internet industry leans toward a relatively light government touch.

An early move in President Donald Trump’s tenure set the tone on data privacy. He signed a bill into law in April 2017 that allows internet providers to sell information about their customers’ browsing habits. The legislation scrapped Obama-era online privacy rules aimed at giving consumers more control over how broadband companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon share that information.

Allie Bohm, policy counsel at the…

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