Obama’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

The Obama Administration has announced a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” that will better protect users from companies that share their personal information on the Internet.

“American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online,” said President Obama in a statement. “As the Internet evolves, consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy. That’s why an online privacy Bill of Rights is so important.  For businesses to succeed online, consumers must feel secure. By following this blueprint, companies, consumer advocates and policymakers can help protect consumers and ensure the Internet remains a platform for innovation and economic growth.”

The rights, as outlined in the White House’s statement, are as follows:

  • 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 2010 The Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force launched a comprehensive review to evaluate the role of privacy in the Internet economy. The “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” is based on their findings.

Currently The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration is assembling a team of companies, technical experts, academics, international partners, privacy advocates and other stakeholders to create and implement policies to enforce the bill.

The Administration is also working with Congress on new legislation that will update current standards for privacy protection in commercial sectors.

Many companies including Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and AOL have already agreed to work with Do Not Track technology on major Web browsers when users opt out of having their information shared.  These companies currently deliver 90 percent of the behavioral ads online.  Their participation is subject to enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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