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Google Chief Privacy Officer Keith Enright. Photo: Courtesy of Google

Google’s top privacy staffer will defend the company’s business model at a Wednesday Senate hearing while backing the broad idea of new privacy rules.

The big picture: Google finds itself in a precarious spot in Washington, with lawmakers questioning the giant not only about privacy but also about its plans to re-enter the Chinese search market and allegations of anti-conservative bias.

The details: Google will face tough questions at the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on privacy, where chief privacy officer Keith Enright will appear alongside representatives from other tech companies as well as internet service providers.

  • Enright told Axios he plans to stand by the company’s ad-supported business model.
  • “We don’t hide from that but we also recognize that that creates some additional considerations and responsibilities on our part,” he said, later emphasizing the "benefits that users and the internet generally have realized" from free, ad-supported services like Google's.
  • But he will also point to what the company thinks would make for good privacy rules. “We actually support comprehensive baseline data protection regulations, and we want to be engaged in that conversation,” he said.
  • He pushed back on the idea that opt-in consent to data collection should be required by law, and indicated he broadly supported the idea of federal regulations taking precedence over state rules.

Yes, but: Other witnesses may articulate a different version of what strong privacy regulations will look like. Apple’s Bud Tribble, for example, will underscore the ways that the company does not monetize user data, according to prepared testimony obtained by Axios.

Google’s Enright said the company has its own red lines for where it thinks regulation shouldn't go:

  • A so-called “right to be forgotten,” as exists for European users who want certain information related to their lives removed from search results
  • Required data localization, or the practice of forcing companies to store data on users in their home country

The bottom line: Google and other companies that collect user data are trying to shape any rules that lawmakers in the U.S. ultimately impose to be as accommodating of their businesses as possible.

Go deeper

6 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

7 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 7 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."