Nonprofit calls meeting of Internet giants to reach accord on privacy

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Privacy International has called on the major Internet companies to meet with the non-governmental organization in July in San Francisco to clarify a number of data-handling practices.

The organization said in a statement that customers expect strong and consistent privacy protection, with Privacy International ready to do whatever it takes to provide it.

"We believe it is important to understand the full extent of data practices before moving on to agreement on future action," Privacy International said in a statement. "That is precisely why Privacy International has published a consultation report in advance of a full report."

The goal of this first meeting is to discuss existing practices and how customer data is being used. The meeting will require companies to provide detailed information for a report Privacy International expects to publish in September. The report will discuss challenges in privacy.

Privacy International wants to discuss common elements that can be universally improved across the Internet.

"We reiterate our previous position that the portrayal of Google as the sole privacy offender is incorrect and misguided," Privacy International said. "Such an interpretation misses our key finding that the Internet is awash with companies that demonstrate poor privacy practice.

"Though Google is particularly poor in many areas of its approach to privacy, it places more favorably in others (e.g. leadership by not handing over piles of data to the U.S. government)," the statement said.

"But Google is just one of the many. The extensive commentary on our consultation report demonstrates that perception of privacy on the Internet is polarized. The question that remains is how we constructively and cooperatively move forward to fix the damage that is being wrought."

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