Tech Firms Call for Privacy Legislation

Twelve companies joined forces Tuesday to call on legislatures to consider comprehensive consumer privacy legislation. In addition, eBay CEO Meg Whitman and Hewlett-Packard Chief Privacy Officer Scott Taylor also testified on Capitol Hill saying action was needed to "unify today's crazy quilt of laws."

While they do not support consumers gaining the right to sue companies for violations of privacy statutes, the companies are advocating a central agency with the power take action if companies are lax in protecting the privacy of their customers.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the group said that such "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."

Eight tech companies, including eBay, Google, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun and Symantec signed off on the statement. All are members of the Consumer Privacy Legislative Forum, a group formed last winter to lobby for privacy legislation.

While most legislatures seemed receptive to the CPL Forum's calls, some questioned the need for new beauracracy. Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that consumers should still have the right to privately sue companies for misuse of private information.

He said he planned to introduce such legislation before the end of this congressional term.

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