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Google pushes for international Internet privacy guidelines

[JURIST] Google [corporate website] called for new international laws to protect personal information online [speech text] at a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) [official website; conference materials] conference Friday, urging that an international body such as the UN or the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) [official websites] create the guidelines. Google global privacy attorney Peter Fleischer [personal blog] noted that the existing guidelines on privacy and personal data are out of date, with OECD guidelines dating back to 1980 and European Commission guidelines dating back to 1995, both prior to the widespread use of the Internet. Google suggested that a Privacy Framework [PDF text] created by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) [official website] in 2004 could serve as a model for new international guidelines. The Financial Times has more.

Google's attitude towards privacy has seen a dramatic shift in the last year. In June, Google announced that it will retain user search data for 18 months [JURIST report], down from its previous policy of retaining data for 18-24 months. Google's policy revision came in response to an announcement [JURIST report] by the European Commission [official website] in May that the EU's independent advisory panel would investigate [press briefing] Google to determine whether it complies with EU privacy rules [EU Data Protection website]. In April, numerous Internet privacy groups in the United States filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint [PDF text; JURIST report] against Google, following reports that the company was planning to buy Internet advertising company DoubleClick [corporate website]. The groups requested that the FTC block the proposed merger [agreement text; SEC press release] until the agency conducts an investigation, saying that the merger would allow Google to match users' personal information with their Internet usage history and habits.

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