Google lobbies hard to derail new US privacy laws – using dodgy stats • The Register

As blowback against Facebook and its business model enters its third week, with netizens railing against the amount and type of personal data the social network has on them, calls for new privacy laws have started growing.

And in response so has a secret lobbying effort, spearheaded by Google, to head those calls off at the pass.

The search giant’s largest fear is currently that US legislators will consider bringing across European legislation that enables people to force Google to remove links from its database – the so-called “Right to be Forgotten.” The system is under serious scrutiny right now in the UK courts.

While Facebook is being slammed for storing and selling personal data sucked or typed into its website, Google’s vast profits come from similar but slightly different data gathering: search results connected to user accounts, related user data from its many apps, and a vast searchable database of information posted online by others.

The Right to be Forgotten rules effectively give users a greater right over their data than Google: you can tell Google not to link to or store information about you from other sources.

This is a significant threat to Google’s business model and so it has been fighting the measure for years. It lost in Europe – where governments are increasingly imposing greater privacy protections – and now it is worried that a new wave of awareness and concerns over personal data in the US will encourage Americans to push for similar measures.

SESTA-PESTA

It is worth noting that Google is still smarting from the approval of new laws in America aimed at tackling sex traffickers online. The SESTA-FOSTA legislation broke blanket legal protections over user content by inserting an exception into Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Essentially, it is now possible for websites and internet service providers to be on the hook for stuff posted by their users that promotes or facilitates prostitution.

Google was fiercely opposed to the law, but a rare split occurred in the tech industry when Facebook decided it would stop fighting the legislation, in large part because it needed to build some goodwill following months of attacks over its dissemination of Russian-crafted disinformation during the US presidential election.

One of the interesting things about the Google-Facebook split on SESTA-FOSTA was that it demonstrated who the predominant tech giant voice is in several Washington DC lobbying groups.

When Facebook decided in the background that it would back SESTA-FOSTA, following the additional of a small amendment, the first outward sign was when the Internet Association did an unexpected U-turn and went from opposition to support.

Google is also a member of the Internet Association but was not on board with the support of SESTA. It continues to feel – with some justification – that once Section 230 is opened up, it will be constantly fending off other efforts to include other exceptions.

So while the Internet Association came out in support of SESTA-FOSTA, two other key tech lobbying firms – Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and NetChoice – continued to oppose it. Google and Facebook are members of both organizations.

The CTA is a broader tech industry association whereas NetChoice is a smaller, more specifically internet industry association.

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