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    USA Today: Facebook changes its lobbying status in Washington

    USA Today reports on a new lobbying strategy for social-networking site Facebook as federal lawmakers increasingly focus on privacy issues:

    As lawmakers and regulators ponder sweeping changes to online privacy law, Facebook is working to shape its image on Capitol Hill and avert measures potentially damaging to its information-sharing business.

    The world’s largest social-networking site is increasing its Washington office, spending more on lobbying and meeting with lawmakers, congressional staff and privacy experts who question whether the company is adequately protecting the personal information of its 500 million users. Founder Mark Zuckerberg is also on a charm offensive to show he’s on the right side of the debate. […]

    Facebook’s beefed-up Washington presence coincides with promises from several lawmakers to seek greater protections of online users’ identities and personal information, their online habits and the tracking, collection and sale of any of it. Among them:

    • Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., recently called for legislation to protect online privacy. “(There is a) need for legislation to ensure that all collectors of personally identifiable information respect fair information practice principles,” Kerry said in a statement.

    • Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., recently announced he would introduce a “do not track” bill for kids, to protect their online behavior from being tracked and their personal information from being collected or profiled.

    “For many kids, the Internet … is like online oxygen — they can’t live without it,” Markey says. “These services can offer an array of exciting and entertaining opportunities, but children growing up in the 21st century online need protection from dangers that can lurk (there).”

    • Newly sworn-in Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., also said he would introduce “do not track” legislation this year. “Congress should implement the closest possible Internet equivalent of the do-not-call list,” Blumenthal said in a statement. Options may include an opt-in, requiring sites to obtain specific permission to track and sell data.

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