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Feds slurping your private data? But that's OUR job, says Google

Ad giant wants strict privacy laws to fight 'overly broad' info grabs

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Google has renewed calls for tougher safeguards to protect people's privacy online as the Feds come knocking for more emails and cloud-hosted files.

The search giant is part of the Digital Due Process - a coalition including Facebook, Amazon, eBay and HP - that is trying to change the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to give emails and other online documents the same legal protections as personal records kept in one's home.

The internet giant used Data Privacy Day, held yesterday in North America, to announce that it receives "dozens of letters, faxes and emails from government agencies and courts around the world" a day requesting users' private information. We're told that this "typically this happens in connection with government investigations".

"It’s important for law enforcement agencies to pursue illegal activity and keep the public safe," senior veep and chief legal officer David Drummond wrote in a blog post.

"We’re a law-abiding company, and we don’t want our services to be used in harmful ways. But it’s just as important that laws protect you against overly broad requests for your personal information."

Drummond said the Chocolate Factory will carry on with its "long-standing strict process" that decides whether or not to hand over any requested sensitive data, and has posted more information about the system.

While it's very nice of Google to offer to fix the law for everyone, it could be a cynical ploy to turn the spotlight on data-grabbing officials and draw attention away from the data-grabbing activities of, say, Facebook and Google.

Facebook seems to be on a mission to see just how far it can push its users in terms of privacy when enabling new features, such as photo recognition. And the Chocolate Factory was in the soup last year when it rolled all its privacy policies across different services into one new agreement that allowed data sharing between the likes of YouTube and Gmail. ®

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