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Tech firms warn privacy bill will harm economy

July 23, 2010 4:00 AM PDT | by Declan McCullagh |

A new privacy bill introduced in the U.S. Congress this week would have serious unintended consequences and could even harm the nation’s economy unless its Democratic sponsor rewrites it, Internet industry representatives warned Thursday.

The proposal, introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, slaps fines of up to $5 million on businesses and even some individuals unless they abide by a complex set of new regulations to be administrated by the Federal Trade Commission.

That legislation “would turn the Internet from a fast-moving information highway to a slow-moving toll-road,” Michael Zaneis, vice president of public policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, told Rush’s committee on Thursday. “Such a move would hinder, not facilitate e-commerce.” The group’s board members include representatives of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, AOL, Comcast,, Fox Interactive, and CBS Interactive, which publishes CNET.

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