Obama Backs Online Bill Of Rights

Mar 21, 2011, 13:01 by John Steele

In a marked increase in involvement from last year, the Obama Administration announced today its support for proposed legislation to protect the personal data of Internet users. The White House had previously sought codes of conduct from internet-based businesses but will now seek legislation protecting consumers from unwanted data tracking and recording.

Lawrence Strickling, an assistant secretary at the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration testified Wednesday to the Senate Commerce Committee, backing creation of a bill of rights for Internet users with legally enforceable standards for the collection and sale of personal data gathered from Internet use.

According to Reuters, Democratic Senator John Kerry has been circulating similar commercial privacy legislation drafted with Republican Senator John McCain.

"We approached this with a real open mind, and I think people will acknowledge a fair amount of reasonableness and flexibility. But we can't let the status quo stand," Kerry said.

The Federal Trade Commission has called for a "Do Not Track" option, where people could tell companies that they did not want information gathered on them.

'We don't think tracking is per se bad at all,' FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz told Reuters. 'We just think that consumers should be able to opt out of tracking. ... You should have the right not to be followed around if you don't want to be followed around.'

According to reports from CNET, Strickling made very clear that the privacy protections would work with existing agencies like the FTC to ensure protections would be consistent across different borders, even around the world, but would not prevent innovation by online business.

"Working together with Congress, the FTC, the Executive Office of the President, and other stakeholders, I am confident in our ability to provide consumers with meaningful privacy protections in the Internet economy, backed by effective enforcement, that can adapt to changes in technology, market conditions, and consumer expectations," Strickling said.

Source: Reuters