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Friday, February 24, 2012

consumer privacy bill of rights

consumer privacy bill of rights



In an attempt to bolster Web user privacy, the Obama administration has released a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, which will serve as a guide for greater privacy protections.
The White House today unveiled a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” intended to serve as a guideline for new legislation to protect people’s online privacy. The Privacy Bill of Rights outlines what types of information Internet companies may collect, how that information may be used, ways for users to easily access their private data, and correct any errors in the information

“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 outlined in the measure are outlined by the White House as such:

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.
The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights serves as one of four key elements to the total “blueprint.” The other parts include: enforcement of these rights by the Federal Trade Commission; a “stakeholder-driven process” to define how these rights will apply to specific businesses; and a plan for coordinating the framework of these rights with those of international partners.

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration will in the coming weeks meet with a number of parties that will be affected by the establishment of these rights, including business, privacy and consumer rights advocacy groups, technical experts, international partners, and academics. During these meetings the Commerce Department will “establish specific practices or codes of conduct” that will allow for the implementation of the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

In addition, the White House announced that Google, Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo — which together deliver more than 90 percent of all behavioral advertising on the Web — have agreed to support the use of Do Not Track technology in most major Web browsers. Do Not Track allows users to block companies from tracking where they move around the Internet, and is strongly supported by digital rights advocacy groups, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

While the Obama administration has been working on the development of the Privacy Bill of Rights over the past two years, its unveiling could not have come at a more appropriate time. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen: Google come under fire for bypassing the privacy settings in both Safari and Internet Explorer browsers, as well as a heated debate over its new, unified privacy policy; Path, Hipster, and a wide range of other mobile apps access and upload users’ contact lists without permission; and, of course, Facebook once again scrutinized for its new Open Graph platform, which allows for “frictionless sharing” of user data and activities on the Web.
Responding to widespread complaints about the privacy practices of Internet companies like Facebook and Google, the Obama administration on Thursday unveiled its “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights,” a framework for protecting the personal data or web users.

The list includes giving individual consumers better control over the personal data collected from them by companies and how it is used, as well as transparency about privacy practices and responsible handling of personal data. Using the outline, the Commerce Department plans to meet with companies, privacy advocates and other stakeholders to develop enforceable privacy policies. “American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online,” said President Obama. “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.” In addition, the White House said that companies delivering nearly 90% of online behavioral advertisements, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL, have now committed to utilize “Do Not Track” buttons embedded in web browers, giving consumers the option of keeping their browsing histories from being tracked. Companies making the commitment will be subject to enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission
We've trusted companies such as Google, whose unofficial motto is "don't be evil," to act in our best privacy interests while we surf the web. But with wide-sweeping changes to Google's privacy policy on deck that are drawing attention of regulators, consumers are having second doubts about the industry's shining knight. Even Apple's privacy policy is under assault from the government after the company turned a blind eye to privacy abuses by app developers.

Enter President Obama. Today, his administration introduced the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, a sweeping seven point document that seeks to protect Americans' privacy as they use the internet. The seven points are:

Individual Control: Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data companies collect from them and how they use it.
Transparency: Consumers have a right to easily understandable and accessible information about privacy and security practices.
Respect for Context: Consumers have a right to expect that companies 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 is 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.

The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights is only a guideline — companies are under no obligation to respect the proposed rules unless congress acts to put them into law. Still, in coming days, government officials will be working with internet companies such as Google and Facebook to help them craft privacy policies that respect the above seven points.

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