US Needs an Online Privacy Bill of Rights: Rep. Barton

Monday, 8 Jul 2013 | 12:27 PM ET
Congress Eyes Google on Privacy
Monday, 8 Jul 2013 | 11:15 AM ET
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) discusses why lawmakers are concerned about Google Glass.

Google Glass might be a revolutionary product for consumers, but one thing it won't change is the company's privacy policy, and that makes some lawmakers uneasy. Rep. Joe Barton has been an advocate of online privacy and is leading the charge for tech companies to be clearer about privacy for cutting-edge products.

"I would like to introduce a model privacy protection bill of rights," the Texas Republican told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Monday. "Obviously, you have to have the leadership and the president's help to get this done."

Barton is founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, which sent a request to Google to elaborate on privacy implications for new technologies like Google Glass.

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In the response, Susan Molinari, Google's vice president for public policy and government relations, wrote that "protecting the security and privacy of our users is one of our top priorities" although "no changes to the Google Privacy Policy are planned for Glass."

Molinari pointed to Google's recent decision to ban facial-recognition technology on Glass in the near future. She also noted that the device's camera cannot be used without the user's knowledge.

However, Barton does not think Google's response went far enough.

"I'm not anti-Google and I'm not anti-technology ... but I do think an individual still has a right to privacy in the 21st century," Barton said. "I think it's time to have a serious debate about it in the Congress with the developers. It doesn' t have to be antidevelopment, but we do need to agree that the individual's privacy is paramount, as opposed to the developer's ability to collect, disseminate and market."

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Barton added that some companies, such as Microsoft have been "very cooperative" with privacy protection, while many companies and government agencies may not show similar restraint. "It's a big problem," he said.

— By CNBC's Paul Toscano. Follow him on Twitter and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street" @ToscanoPaul.


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