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Google to acknowledge privacy 'mistakes' to Senate panel

Senate committee to query tech giants on their user data protection practices.

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Google will acknowledge during a Senate committee hearing that it made mistakes in the past regarding how it handled users' privacy.

Claudia Cruz/CNET

Google will acknowledge that it's made "mistakes" on privacy issues during testimony before a Senate committee on Wednesday, Reuters reported Tuesday.

"We acknowledge that we have made mistakes in the past, from which we have learned, and improved our robust privacy program," Google Chief Privacy Officer Keith Enright is expected to tell the Senate Commerce Committee, according to the news agency, which cited a document it had obtained.

The written testimony didn't specify which mistakes the company would acknowledge. In July, Google drew criticism when a report revealed that third-party applications had been letting their employees view Gmail users' messages. And in August, reports surfaced that some Google services on Android and Apple devices track users' location even when location services are turned off. These are the most recent privacy concerns raised by critics, but a Wikipedia page dedicated to "Privacy concerns regarding Google" lists more.

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Wednesday's hearing, which will focus on technology companies' and internet service providers' approaches to protecting user privacy, will also include executives from Apple, Amazon, AT&T and Twitter.

The hearing is the latest in mounting scrutiny that tech companies have faced over data collection and user privacy. Facebook is still reeling from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which data from as many as 87 million Facebook users was improperly shared with the political consultancy, which worked with the Trump campaign.

Google on Monday released a data privacy framework, suggesting companies limit data collection, be required to protect that data and give people control of and easy access to information collected about them.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai will also meet privately with top Republican members of Congress on Friday.

Google representatives couldn't immediately comment.

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