Obama Plan Intends To Make Privacy Enforceable

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[Techtaffy Newsdesk]

The Obama Administration has unveiled a blueprint for a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights to protect consumers online.

Leading Internet companies and online advertising networks in the Digital Advertising Alliance came to the White House to commit to using Do Not Track technology now available in most major Web browsers to make it easier for users to control online tracking.

The White House has proposed a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights as part of a strategy to improve consumers’ privacy protections. These rights give consumers clear guidance on what they should expect from those who handle their personal information, and set expectations for companies that use personal data.

In addition to proposing a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, the report calls for a stakeholder-driven process to specify how these rights apply in particular contexts;  strong enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC);  and greater interoperability between the United States’ privacy framework and those of international partners.

In the coming weeks, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration will begin convening companies, privacy advocates and other stakeholders to establish specific practices or codes of conduct that implement the general principles in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

The Administration has also called on Congress to pass legislation based on the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights model to extend baseline privacy protections to commercial sectors that existing federal privacy laws do not cover.  New legislation should help enumerate clearer rules for privacy protection on the Internet and give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and State Attorneys General additional tools to protect consumers online.

Members of the Digital Advertising Alliance representing nearly ninety percent of online advertising marketplace — including Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and AOL— have agreed to comply when consumers choose to opt out of tracking.  This commitment will be legally-binding and can be enforced by the FTC.

The advertising industry also committed not to release consumers’ browsing data to companies who might use it for purposes other than advertising, such as employers making hiring decisions or insurers determining coverage.

The report, which was signed by President Obama, was developed under the leadership of the National Economic Council and the Office of Science & Technology Policy.  It builds on a preliminary report released in December 2010 by the Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force.