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Today at the Strasbourg Unesco conference, Google's global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, has called on governments and technology companies around the world to jointly create a unified privacy standard to address growing concerns over how personal data is handled across the Internet.
Fleischer pointed out that many countries in the world have no privacy regimes at all, and among those that do have laws, many of them drew up laws in this area before the internet was in widespread use. He called for countries to adopt principles similar to those agreed in the recently-concluded Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), which limits personal information collection and data protection. However, E.U. privacy regulations are already more stringent than the APEC's recommendations and are unlikely to level down to the APEC standards.
It may seem ironic to see Google calling for worldwide privacy rules, considering its own privacy policies have been under scrutiny recently; one report by Privacy International accused Google of being "hostile to privacy". However, international guidelines would keep the search giant (or any other Internet business for that matter) from having to enact different privacy standards according to local laws.