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Obama announces new privacy "Bill of Rights
Old 02-23-2012
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Default Obama announces new privacy "Bill of Rights

White House announces new privacy "Bill of Rights," Do Not Track agreement

By Sean Gallagher | Published about 7 hours ago

Today, the Obama administration rolled out its framework for new privacy regulations.

Saying "American consumers can't wait any longer" for better privacy rules, President Obama took the wraps off his administration's framework for new privacy regulations. As part of its big reveal, the White House also announced the first product of that framework: the completion of an industry agreement on "Do Not Track" technology for behavior-based web advertising.

The blueprint, outlined in an administration white paper, includes a "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights"—a set of principles intended to guide how businesses handle consumers' personal information—and steps to incorporate those principles into federal regulations. The blueprint includes negotiating a set of practices with industry, consumer protection and privacy advocates, plus other "stakeholders" in privacy policy. The practices will then be enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission.

The "Do Not Track" agreement is a first step toward that model. Signed by a group of web advertising networks and "leading Internet companies," including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL, the agreement will lead to the adoption of Do Not Track features integrated into web browsers. This will allow consumers to opt out of behavior-based marketing, blocking advertiser's tracking "cookies." The companies signing off on the agreement account for delivery of nearly 90 percent of behavior-based advertisement, according to White House figures. The companies entered into the agreement voluntarily, but now are subject to the Federal Trade Commission's oversight and enforcement of its terms.

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said of the agreement in a statement: “It’s great to see that companies are stepping up to our challenge to protect privacy so consumers have greater choice and control over how they are tracked online. More needs to be done, but the work they have done so far is very encouraging.”

The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights' seven principles, as outlined in the administration's blueprint, are:
  • Individual Control: Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data organizations collect from them and how they use it.
  • Transparency: Consumers have a right to easily understandable information about privacy and security practices.
  • Respect for Context: Consumers have a right to expect that organizations will collect, use, and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data.
  • Security: Consumers have a right to secure and responsible handling of personal data.
  • Access and Accuracy: Consumers have a right to access and correct personal data in usable formats, in a manner that is appropriate to the sensitivity of the data and the risk of adverse consequences to consumers if the data are inaccurate.
  • Focused Collection: Consumers have a right to reasonable limits on the personal data that companies collect and retain.
  • Accountability: Consumers have a right to have personal data handled by companies with appropriate measures in place to assure they adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.
In part, the administration's efforts are meant to help bring US privacy regulations into closer alignment with those of the European Union and other trading partners. Representatives from the EU and other "international partners" are expected to participate in discussions of how to incorporate the principles into practice alongside other "stakeholders." The administration also intends to pursue legislation to extend baseline privacy protection to business sectors not currently covered by federal privacy laws.



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