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    Washington Post: Web giants fight California privacy bill

    The Washington Post looks at a privacy fight in California:

    Web giants Facebook, Google, Twitter and Skype have banded together to oppose an online social networking privacy bill in California that would require users’ permission to display personal information such as home addresses and phone numbers.

    The bill, introduced last February by state Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-San Leandro), started out as legislation aimed at minors to create stronger privacy safeguards for their personal information.

    Corbett said in an interview that Facebook and other companies argued that the focus on youth would encourage lying about age. She said the Silicon Valley networking giant protested that youth wanted to better control their information. […]

    In a letter to Corbett earlier this week, Facebook and other popular sites protested the proposed legislation.

    They told Corbett that they oppose the bill because it “would significantly undermine the ability of Californians to make informed and meaningful choices about use of their personal data, and unconstitutionally interfere with the right to free speech enshrined in the California and United States Constitutions.”

    They added that their firms, including Skype, Twitter, Zynga, Yahoo and eHarmony are important engines of economic growth for the state. […]

    Observers said Web giants are afraid of the bill passing because it could set a legal precedent for other states and federal lawmakers. U.S. federal lawmakers have introduced several privacy bills but analysts say turning any one of those bills into law this year will be difficult.

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