• Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., has indicated that he is working to develop a privacy bill for the new session of Congress that reflects stakeholder comments on a draft bill that Rep. Stearns and former Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher, D-Va., developed last year. Stearns’ office reports that he plans to offer the new bill soon, but specifics are not yet available.
  • Lawyers for Google, Inc. went to court in Madrid last week to address demands by Spanish authorities that the company delete links to websites containing information that officials say violates Spaniards’ privacy rights. Spain’s Data Protection Agency, which has issued 90 orders for Google to take down links, said it filed the orders against Google at the request of individuals who lodged complaints and because the original publishers of the material cannot legally be ordered to take them down. The National Court heard argument on Wednesday from both sides on the first five orders to be appealed. The cases include a surgeon who was absolved of charges of criminal negligence in a 1991 case but who sees a Spanish newspaper reference to the original case - and not the acquittal - whenever his name is keyed into Google’s search engine. Another case involves a woman who was denied a local government grant years ago but reference to her grant application keeps appearing in searches using her name. Google fears that a negative ruling by the court would effectively make it accountable for the material it provides on the Internet. Lawyers for Google pointed out that the data agency had not called on any of the news providers to modify or remove their content.
  • Police in Huntington Beach, California will not be posting the mug shots of habitual drunk driving suspects on Facebook following the rejection last week of Councilman Devin Dwyer’s proposed ordinance that would have required police to post the mug shots online. Dwyer believed that such an ordinance would shame people into changing their behavior, but the Police Department opposed the move, saying it would alienate residents. Huntington Beach, with a population of 200,000, is ranked first in the state for alcohol-related traffic fatalities among cities of similar size. Dwyer’s proposal alarmed privacy advocates and defense lawyers who worried it might impact the presumption of innocence for suspects.