US senators introduce online privacy 'bill of rights'

Apr 12, 2011 by Chris Lefkow
US senators John Kerry and John McCain, shown here in 2010, introduced an online privacy bill Tuesday that seeks to strike a balance between protecting the personal information of Web users and the needs of businesses to conduct electronic commerce.

US senators John Kerry and John McCain introduced an online privacy bill Tuesday that seeks to strike a balance between protecting the personal information of Web users and the needs of businesses to conduct electronic commerce.

The former Democratic and Republican presidential candidates said the bipartisan legislation would require companies gathering data to allow a consumer to "opt-out" of having their collected.

"Protecting Americans' personal, private information is vital to making the Information Age everything it should be," said Kerry, the Democrat from Massachusetts who lost the 2004 White House race to George W. Bush.

Kerry, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, said "Americans have a right to decide how their information is collected, used, and distributed and businesses deserve the certainty that comes with clear guidelines."

The Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011 "makes fair information practices the rules of the road, gives Americans the assurance that their personal information is secure, and allows our information driven economy to continue to thrive in today's global market," he said.

McCain, the Republican from Arizona who lost the 2008 presidential election to Barack Obama, said " want to shop, browse and share information in an environment that is respectful of their personal information.

"Our legislation sets forth a framework for companies to create such an environment and allows businesses to continue to market and advertise to all consumers, including potential customers," McCain said.

"However, the bill does not allow for the collection and sharing of by businesses that have no relationship to the consumer for purposes other than advertising and marketing," he said. "It is this practice that American consumers reject as an unreasonable invasion of privacy."

The bill would direct state attorney generals and the (FTC) to enforce its provisions and put a cap on fines for violations.

The legislation met with a mixed reaction from digital privacy groups.

"This is an important step toward the enactment of a comprehensive privacy law for this country," said Justin Brookman, director of the Center for Democracy & Technology's Consumer Privacy Project.

"With the proliferation of tracking technologies in recent years, consumers need basic protections to allow them to see how their data is being used, and to give them control over their own information," Brookman said.

A coalition of consumer groups and privacy advocates welcomed the bipartisan effort but said in a letter to the senators that the legislation needs to be "significantly strengthened if it is to effectively protect consumer privacy rights in today's digital marketplace."

"Consumers need strong baseline safeguards to protect them from the sophisticated data profiling and targeting practices that are now rampant online and with mobile devices," they said.

"We cannot support the bill at this time," said the letter signed by the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Watchdog, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and Times.

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User comments : 13

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Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (2) Apr 12, 2011
I'm convinced most websites automatically give out your informaion, and that includes ISPs as well.

I have had some weird and FREAKY experiences on some forums where I did not have my information publicly displayed and there was way any "user" should have known my information.

By chance, I happened to post a comment about having a headache one day, and literally within about a minute or so, the telephone rang as I got an un-welcome, out-of-state call from a medical clinic or hospital which specialized in headaches.

Now the only way this could have happened is if "someone" between my ISP and that particular web site had not only given my information out, but had also given it out in tandem with my comment about having had a headache at that time.

Essentially, I believe either the ISP or their site had a spybot which monitors the user's posts and private contact information, etc, for relevant content, and sells information to advertisers and special interest groups, etc.
wiyosaya
5 / 5 (3) Apr 12, 2011
Opt out is TOTALLY LAME, as I see it. We already have something like this in the can-spam act. Any meaningful law, IMHO, would make lists like this OPT-IN. Sorry, but this IS govt selling out to business, IMHO.
Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Apr 12, 2011
Problem with opt-out on the internet is it's too easy for the perpetrator to just make another email address or a fake, puppet business on a mirror site, and then use your information anyway...
bfast
not rated yet Apr 12, 2011
This area of law desperately needs to be addressed. However, it needs to be addressed very well. I urge the politicians to have significant discussion with technical experts, legal experts, marketing experts and business experts before implementing law. A lame law will be worse than no law at all.
CHollman82
3 / 5 (2) Apr 12, 2011
By chance, I happened to post a comment about having a headache one day, and literally within about a minute or so, the telephone rang as I got an un-welcome, out-of-state call from a medical clinic or hospital which specialized in headaches.

Now the only way this could have happened is if "someone" between my ISP and that particular web site had not only given my information out, but had also given it out in tandem with my comment about having had a headache at that time.

Essentially, I believe either the ISP or their site had a spybot which monitors the user's posts and private contact information, etc, for relevant content, and sells information to advertisers and special interest groups, etc.


Tin foil nutter...
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (2) Apr 12, 2011
Tin foil nutter...


whatever,idjit.

It actually happened.

The probability of coincidence is infinitesmally close to zero.
Thrasymachus
not rated yet Apr 12, 2011
Or infinitesimally close to one. Without a body of similar incidents to judge from, it's impossible to tell.
Eikka
not rated yet Apr 12, 2011

The probability of coincidence is infinitesmally close to zero.


Suppose your ad agency calls randomly once a minute from 9 to 5 to somebody. To hit within a 5 minute timeframe of you giving a comment at any time during that interval, they have a 1/100 chance.

Picking the right day out of, let's say a year gives you another 1/365, but meanwhile, they've made 175 200 calls, so they've got the date and time right for at least 4.8 times.

They have about 4.8/300 000 000 chance in calling you in particular at the right time, if you live in the US, but if there are many thousands of people who at different times of the day complain about headaches, the chances of one of them recieving a call just minutes after posting a such a comment is merely improbable at something around 1 against 1000 odds.

If you allow a 10 minute timeframe, or 20 minutes timeframe, then it's very likely that someone gets the call, and it may arrive just 3 minutes later.

So, one sample does proof not make.
Eikka
not rated yet Apr 12, 2011
In reality though, telemarketing companies do have their work cut out to them so they're not trying to sell condoms to kindergardeners.

That reduces the number of people they try to call to market something like headache cures to people who are actually likely to need one - certain age bracket for example.

And that whittles down the number of people you need to call to have that lucky accident by many thousandfolds.

After all, there's only half a million minutes in a year. Call half a million times to half a million people, and you'll catch someone at least thinking about it for sure.

And they'll go "How did you know?"

That's the idea of spam.
FTL4Life
not rated yet Apr 12, 2011
I doubt the telemarketing company could possibly recieve his phone number fast enough for the two events to be related.
Did the telemarketing firm have a live feed from the website? If not, how could they be related?
stealthc
5 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2011
who cares this bill of rights isn't such a smart idea, it is their foot in the door towards taking your rights away. The government needs to leave the internet alone. They will help you just like the FCC intended to help you, just like china intends on helping it's people.
unknownorgin
5 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2011
Personel information can no longer be considered safe because of the small portable memory devices. An employee can walk out of an office with several gigabytes of account information in the palm of their hand ,for sale to the highest bidder. I have recieved phone calls from so called bussiness wanting to "confirm" if a certain address or number is mine because they are trying to match names with information they have aquired by questionable means. The only way your personel information ends up on the internet is because you supplied it or it was stolen.
CHollman82
3 / 5 (2) Apr 13, 2011
Personal is spelled with an 'a'

Personel is not a word

Personnel refers to a group of people working for the same organization or toward the same end.

For future reference...