US: Senate Commerce Committee wants a word with Google, Amazon, Twitter

AT&T, Twitter, Alphabet’s Google and three other major web and internet service companies plan to testify before a US Senate panel later in September to lay out their consumer data privacy practices.

According to a report in Reuters, the companies – which also include Amazon, Apple and Charter Communications – will appear before the Senate on September 26 to explain their approaches to privacy, said John Thune, the Republican senator and chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. The senator said they will also testify as to “how they plan to address new requirements from the European Union and California, and what Congress can do to promote clear privacy expectations without hurting innovation.”

Those expected to testify, according to the report, include Google’s chief privacy officer, Twitter’s global data protection officer and Apple’s vice president of software technology.

The comments from the senator come a day after The Internet Association, a group that represents Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet’s Google, among other technology and internet companies, said it supports data privacy rules in the U.S. that are more modern, but urged lawmakers to approach the issue nationally. According to a different report in Reuters, the trade group wants the rules to preempt a new regulation on the books in California that comes into effect in 2020. The Association represents 40 major internet and technology companies, including Netflix, Microsoft and Twitter.

“Internet companies support an economy-wide, national approach to regulation that protects the privacy of all Americans,” the group said, adding that it backed ideas that would make sure consumers have “meaningful controls over the personal information they provide.” The group also said that consumers should be able to delete data, request corrections or have personal information taken down, as well as have access to the personal information they provide the company. The aim is to get the rule into place before the California law kicks in.

Jerry Brown, the governor of California, signed the data privacy legislation into law in June, providing consumers with more control over their data and how companies collect and use it. With the law starting in 2020, big companies would have to let consumers see the data they collected and respond to requests for deletion. The companies also have to enable customers to opt out of having their data sold to vendors.

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