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Congress / Technology

Barton, Markey Target Groupon Over Privacy Shift

Rep. Joe Barton R-Texas(Liz Lynch)

July 21, 2011

With success comes congressional attention. That may be the message online coupon provider Groupon is getting from two lawmakers.

Groupon recently announced plans to go public and is seeking $750 million from investors. But the company is also getting some unwanted attention from the chairmen of the House Bipartisan Privacy Caucus over reports that it plans to collect and share more information about its users.

Reps. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Ed Markey, D-Mass., wrote Groupon Tuesday voicing concern over the firm's privacy changes and demanded answers by Aug. 10 from the Chicago-based company to a slew of questions related to its privacy policies.

"We want to make sure that 'the Groupon Promise' is kept and that going after a good online deal doesn't lead to your information being sold to the highest bidder," Barton said in a joint news release. Barton and Markey are both senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

In their letter to Groupon CEO Andrew Mason, Barton and Markey asked Groupon to detail the type of information it collects and from what sources; whether it tracks its users' locations and if so will it allow them to opt out of such tracking; what mechanisms it uses to determine its users' ages; and whether its partners must abide by Groupon's privacy policies.

Barton and Markey have been aggressive in calling out major Internet firms such as Facebook and Google when the lawmakers believe they have violated their users' privacy.

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