While Google and Facebook launch salvos at each other publicly, in the less conspicuous chambers of the California legislature, they worked side by side to nix a bill that would have given their users greater control over the information the tech giants share.
Part of an internet company coalition that includes Twitter, eHarmony, Match.com and the now Microsoft-owned Skype, the two multi-billion dollar companies have successfully blocked Senate Bill 242. The companies lobbied heavily to block the legislation.
The proposed legislation, written by Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, failed to exit the floor in a stalled vote of 16-16. Two Democrats crossed the aisle to join the dissenting Republicans.
The bill was already watered down, as demonstrated by the most up-to-date-language that includes cross-outs of personal information users could order the new media sites to take down. Here’s an example:
(b) "Personal identifying information" means a person's name,
address, telephone number, driver's license number, social security
number, place of employment, employee
identification number, mother's maiden name, demand deposit account
number, savings account number, or credit card number. "Personal
identifying information" also means information about a person's
current location, including global positioning system coordinates, in
different types of media, including photographs and videos,
transmitted to, or over, the Internet.
In recent months, Facebook has bolstered its public affairs staff. A report yesterday said the company brought on two high level officials from the George W. Bush Administration, Joel Kaplan, formerly Bush’s deputy chief of staff, and Myriah Jordan, also from the Office of the Chief of Staff. The move was interpreted as a cozying up to GOP lawmakers who are less likely to go after corporations for privacy violations than Democrats.
Meanwhile, the social networking behemoth has waged a behind-the-scenes smear campaign against chief rival Google, hiring a major PR firm to feed tech journalists unflattering stories of the dominant search engine. The Daily Beast broke that story after a flack asked one of the site’s writers to probe Google’s privacy mishaps.
And unlike most websites with search engine capabilities, Facebook partnered with Microsoft’s Bing, now the second most-used search engine after unseating Yahoo! In September of 2010.