Washington lawmaker looking for answers on privacy from Google, Facebook

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Washington lawmakers are still snooping on the privacy practices of two of Silicon Valley’s hottest companies.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Friday asked Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. to cooperate with inquiries into privacy practices at both companies. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) dispatched letters expressing concern about whether the two companies are doing enough to protect users’ privacy.

Google captured online activities over Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries while it was photographing neighborhoods for its StreetView feature. Facebook rolled out privacy fixes this week after coming under fire for pushing users to publicly share more personal information.

Conyers said he wants Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to explain his company’s privacy practices and he wants Google CEO Eric Schmidt to retain the records related to the Wi-Fi data collection and to cooperate with state and federal agencies. The House Judiciary Committee is considering hearings and legislation.


“Companies such as Facebook and Google provide innovative services that enrich and expand the constantly evolving Internet,” Conyers said. “I want to ensure that privacy concerns are as paramount as creativity to these and all Internet companies, and I look forward to hearing about ways they can ensure this is the case.”

[Update 4:14 pm: Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said the Palo Alto company looks forward to meeting with Conyers to discuss its ‘industry-leading privacy practices.’

A Google representative said: ‘We are continuing to have discussions with all the relevant authorities and we will be answering their questions.’

Google said it not deleting U.S. data.]

-- Jessica Guynn