WASHINGTON — The head of the House Judiciary Committee is asking Google Inc. and Facebook to cooperate with government inquiries into privacy practices at both companies.
Michigan Democrat John Conyers sent letters to Google and Facebook on Friday amid mounting concern that the two online companies are not adequately protecting personal privacy on the Internet.
Facebook has come under fire for sharing user information with a handful of other online services as part of its "instant personalization" program, which is intended to let Facebook members share their interests in everything from music to restaurants with others in their social network.
Facebook simplified its privacy controls in response to the backlash among users.
Several privacy watchdog groups have filed a complaint against Facebook with the Federal Trade Commission, whichis reviewing social networks' privacy policies.
A Facebook spokesman said the company looks forward to meeting with Conyers' staff to explain its privacy practices and policies.
Conyers stopped short of saying his committee will begin its own investigations into Facebook and Google.
Google recently admitted that it had sucked up fragments of e-mails, Web surfing behavior and other activities over public Wi-Fi networks while it was photographing neighborhoods for its "Street View" mapping feature.
At least two House members have asked the FTC to look into the matter and are seeking more information from Google about the incident.
Google has hired a security consulting firm to make an encrypted copy of all the U.S. data collected by Street View, according to records in a federal lawsuit filed against the company in Portland, Ore. The judge overseeing that case has ordered Google to retain the data.