U.S. privacy advocates urge Google to stop opposing privacy act

Updated 2018-04-20 16:19:02 Xinhua

A U.S. privacy advocacy group Thursday urged the tech giant Google to stop funding a campaign that opposes a proposed ballot initiative on giving consumers more control over their data.

The group, Californians for Consumer Privacy, also called on Google to stop tracking children on Android applications hosted by the Google Play Store.

Google has joined major U.S. telecom operators and Internet service providers such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Facebook in donating to a 1-million-U.S.-dollar campaign opposing the ballot measure for greater consumer privacy.

"The fact that Google did not protect the privacy of children who use their apps is chilling and beyond disturbing," Alastair Mactaggart, chair of Californians for Consumer Privacy, said in a statement.

Mactaggart is also the chief proponent of the California Consumer Privacy Act, a statewide ballot proposition that will appear on the November 2018 ballot for establishing extensive consumer privacy rights.

The Act would require companies to disclose upon request what types of personal information they collect about their users and whether they have sold it. It also would allow customers to opt out of having their data sold.

If the proposed measure passes in November, consumers in California could sue both digital and brick-and-mortar businesses for security breaches of data, even if they could not prove they were harmed by the breach.

There is an acute need for real accountability measures for large corporations in order to ensure the safety, security and privacy of consumers, Mactaggart said.

Last Wednesday, Facebook announced that it will no longer channel funds into an effort that opposed giving social media users more control over their personal data.

Facebook has been grilled for the past weeks over a data scrape of its 87 million users by British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 presidential elections.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized and took responsibility for the data breach scandal.

Mactaggart said Google should act like Facebook and drop its further funding of opposition to the initiative for more consumer rights.

Californians for Consumer Privacy said a study by the University of California showed that a majority of Google Play Store applications studied "are potentially in violation" of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act 1998, which bans the collection of personal information for children under 13 in the United States.

Opponents of the ballot, including the California Chamber of Commerce, said the measure would hurt California's economy.

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