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Data Protection

White House calls on internet firms to strengthen privacy protection for users

Barack Obama called on companies like Facebook and Google to engage with privacy advocates in order to establish voluntary codes of conduct aimed at protecting users.

THE WHITE HOUSE has called on internet firms to offer greater privacy protections for customers using computers and mobile devices.

Barack Obama called on companies like Facebook and Google to engage with privacy advocates in order to establish voluntary codes of conduct aimed at protecting users, according to Bloomberg. Administration officials also outlined a proposed framework for consumer data privacy.

Recently, state attorneys in 36 US states raised concerns about Google’s plans to share user information across its products – beginning next week, for instance, Google will start merging data it collects from email, video, social-networking and other services when a user is signed in with a Google account.

Among the administration’s proposals is a “Do Not Track” browser option, which would block the sharing of users’ information across products, the BBC reports.

“American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online… As the internet evolves, consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy,” said Obama.

It proposes that users should have the right to limit the context in which data is collected, have the right to correct information and the right to transparency in privacy policies.

Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit research and advocacy group in California, said the approach will work only if influential companies don’t water down the rules to render them meaningless.

“I am skeptical about the ‘multi-stakeholder process,’ but am willing to make a good-faith effort to try,” said John M. Simpson, the group’s privacy project director – referring to the various parties with competing interests tasked with making the rules.

Additional reporting by the AP

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