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Tech firms oppose Internet privacy law
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SAN JOSE  (AP) — A newspaper is reporting that technology firms, banks and other companies are fighting a proposed Internet privacy law that would require companies to show consumers the personal data they’ve collected on them and how it’s being used.

The Right to Know Act, or AB 1291, is being opposed by 15 companies and trade groups, the San Jose Mercury News reported. The bill would require companies to not only show consumers the information they’ve collected, but also who is using it. The information would have to be provided for free.

The newspaper reported that in a recent letter by the companies and trade groups — including TechAmerica, which represents Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other technology companies — the companies and groups are demanding that the measure’s author — Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach — drop the bill.

Tech companies say the bill would open up their businesses to an avalanche of requests from individuals and to lawsuits, and that a 2005 California privacy law already allows consumers to find out what personal information companies are using. But supporters of the bill argue it would give consumers more information about the kind of data businesses are compiling on them, and whether they should opt out of sharing that information.

“Our companies are active proponents of ensuring that consumers’ privacy is safeguarded,” Robert Callahan, the director of California government affairs for TechAmerica, told the Mercury News.

“It is a fundamental part of their business model.”

The Mercury News reports Google did not reply to its requests for an interview on the bill, while a Facebook spokesman declined to comment. The California Chamber of Commerce referred all calls to TechAmerica.

The American Civil Liberties Union — a co-sponsor of the Right to Know Act, — says the tech firms and others are trying to keep from the public their lucrative practice of amassing personal information on people who use online services, computer apps, social networking sites and other portals that track people’s locations, buying habits and other activities.

“A lot of companies don’t want consumers to know what’s happening to their personal information,” Nicole Ozer, an attorney with the ACLU, said.

“Companies are collecting and sharing this information with third parties in ways the people might not realize and in ways they might not want.”

A hearing on the bill was scheduled for last week has been moved to next month.