Google, Microsoft and Facebook to Testify to U.S. Senate about Online Ad Privacy

The Senate Commerce Committee is today holding a hearing about online advertising privacy. Scheduled to testify are:

  • Jane Horvath, Google Senior Privacy Counsel
  • Mike Hintze, Microsoft Associate General Counsel, Legal & Corporate Affairs
  • Chris Kelly, Facebook Chief Privacy Officer

For Google's part, Horvath says she'll be focusing on the following:

  • First, Google supports the passage of a comprehensive federal privacy law that would enhance consumer trust and protections; establish a uniform framework for privacy; and put penalties in place to punish and dissuade bad actors;
  • Second, we have participated in the Federal Trade Commission's effortsto develop principles relating to online privacy and behavioral advertising, and our hope is that revised principles will be adopted widely by the online advertising industry;
  • Third, we believe that the private sector and government should provide more education for consumers about what kinds of personal information are collected by websites, how such data is used, and what steps they can take to better protect their privacy. Too often, web site operators view their online privacy policy as the beginning and end of their privacy obligations;
  • And finally, we believe that industry should provide greater labeling of online display ads -- as we currently do with text ads -- and give consumers mechanisms to opt out of behaviorally targeted advertising.

The hearing begins at 10am in SR - 253.

Google has been vocal about their dedication to privacy this week. They've thrown up a privacy link on their minimalist home page and addressed the concerns related to a ruling requiring them to hand over YouTube user logs.

But Google's insistence on their privacy policy has generally not been enough for lawmakers, especially in election years. Several states have taken on the online advertising privacy issue, most recently in New York and Connecticut.

Facebook has not been as successful in protecting user privacy. Last year, the social network came under fire for its Beacon ads, which used user data without their permission.