At a press conference in Washington, DC yesterday, global privacy officials issued a stern warning to Google Inc. and other Internet companies about their privacy practices. The data protection commissioners of Canada, Spain, Israel, France and the Netherlands convened to emphasize their commitment to enforcing data protection regulations, saying that, among other transgressions, companies are testing new products on consumers to the detriment of their privacy. The press event followed a letter signed by the data protection authorities of 10 nations that calls upon Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, to "incorporate fundamental privacy principles directly into the design of new online services" and to set an example "as a leader in the online world." Joining the press conference by telephone, Dutch Data Protection Commissioner Jacob Kohnstamm said the letter serves as the "last warning" to online companies who fail to comply with global privacy regulations. He added that Europe's Article 29 Working Party supports this message. "Our legislation may vary across continents," Kohnstamm said, "but our privacy values are the same." Meanwhile, Google released a tool yesterday that broadcasts the number of data requests it and other companies receive from governments.

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