The Senate Commerce Committee is taking a look at privacy issues surrounding online advertising, and I'll be testifying at their hearing this morning about Google's own privacy practices. Although the focus of the hearing is likely to be on the emerging issue of ad targeting at the Internet Service Provider (ISP) level, I'm looking forward to talking about Google's commitment to protecting the privacy of our users.

The most important point I plan to make to the committee is this: Google makes privacy a priority because our business depends on it. If our users are uncomfortable with how we manage their personal information, they are only one click away from switching to a competitor’s services.

As part of my testimony, I'll be offering a few policy and technology recommendations, for both the private sector and government:
  • First, Google supports the passage of a comprehensive federal privacy law that would enhance consumer trust and protections; establish a uniform framework for privacy; and put penalties in place to punish and dissuade bad actors;
  • Second, we have participated in the Federal Trade Commission’s efforts to develop principles relating to online privacy and behavioral advertising, and our hope is that revised principles will be adopted widely by the online advertising industry;
  • Third, we believe that the private sector and government should provide more education for consumers about what kinds of personal information are collected by websites, how such data is used, and what steps they can take to better protect their privacy. Too often, web site operators view their online privacy policy as the beginning and end of their privacy obligations;
  • And finally, we believe that industry should provide greater labeling of online display ads -- as we currently do with text ads -- and give consumers mechanisms to opt out of behaviorally targeted advertising.
UPDATE: Check out video below of Jane's testimony.