Google, other tech giants seek consumer protection law

Fresh from a fight with US officials over the sanctity of online search information, Google on Tuesday joined a group of technology firms calling for federal legislation protecting consumer privacy, according to an AFP report.

The report quoted members of the Consumer Privacy Legislative Forum, which included Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett Packard, as saying that since we now lived in a digital economy, both beneficial and potentially harmful uses of personal information were multiplying.

"The time has come for a serious process to consider comprehensive harmonized federal privacy legislation to create a simplified, uniform but flexible legal framework" for protecting consumers, the group said.

"The legislation should provide protection for consumers from inappropriate collection and misuse of their personal information and also enable legitimate businesses to use information to promote economic and social value," it added.

Google counsel Nicole Wong said Tuesday in a blog posting on the Google Web site that the company joined a group of "notable US companies" calling for federal consumer privacy legislation, according to the report.

The report said there was a "patchwork quilt" of US state consumer protection laws that varied depending on location and subject, with examples being health, financial, or child-related data, according to Wong.

"This matrix of laws is complex, incomplete, and sometimes contradictory," Wong wrote. "For consumers, the result is a set of privacy protections that are uneven at best."