The Washington Post reports on battles between U.S. companies and government officials and European legislative proposals on privacy rights:
The push for strict new limits on how Internet companies collect and use consumer data in Europe has hit stiff resistance from U.S. industry groups and the Obama administration, dimming hopes that the effort could lead to expanded privacy safeguards for users worldwide.
Privacy advocates have embraced a bill before the European Parliament as their best chance to win a range of protections that have failed to gain political traction in Washington. The sprawling nature of the information economy means that standards imposed in Europe likely would affect consumers everywhere, possibly giving them new power to block collection of their personal information and demand that it be deleted from existing files.
But officials from the Commerce Department and the U.S. Mission to the European Union have largely echoed industry concerns that the bill could hinder innovation and economic growth worldwide while also hurting the ability of multinational corporations and governments to work across borders. [...]
The unusually intense lobbying campaign has caused irritation among some European officials who have been caught up in what amounts to a proxy struggle among American interests, with privacy advocates fighting industry groups as various U.S. government entities weigh in. [...]
U.S.-based privacy advocates have long favored an approach like the one in Europe, where privacy is regarded as a fundamental right and individual nations have data protection commissions to police how companies collect and use the personal information of their citizens. The United States, by contrast, has no overarching privacy law.
A delegation of American privacy advocates including the ACLU, the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Digital Democracy met this week with lawmakers in Brussels. [...]
In taking the fight to Europe, the consumer groups are drawing inspiration from an earlier generation of political fights in which activists sought out favorable battlegrounds — California, for example, for tougher auto emissions standards — to push causes moving slowly or not at all in Washington. [...]
U.S. officials and industry groups lobbying the European Union say their primary concern has been to protect a digital economy that delivers appealing new products for consumers — often for free — while generating jobs across the world.
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