2011 Seems to be the Year of On-Line Privacy Laws…Finally


One day after an internet privacy bill was introduced in the senate, one was introduced in the house. The senate bill called the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights introduced by Sens. John F. Kerry and John McCain includes measures to address consumer concerns that their sensitive data could be misused. The senate bill does not however include the “Do Not track” provision asked for by many. The unrestrained collection and sale of our data and on-line habits to retailers and others have raised wide concern.

The house bill, referred to as “the Consumer Privacy Protection Act of 2011” was introduced by U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns. The Stearns bill would require web sites to clearly state what personally identifiable information is being collected and how it is used. If a consumer opts out from having his information collected, the opt-out will last for five years unless the consumer changes his mind before then.

“The Consumer Privacy Protection Act of 2011” bill joins another House bill introduced in February by Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Democrat from California, that also targets privacy issues. Speier’s “Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011” directs the FTC to develop a “do not track” mechanism that allows consumers to opt out of having their data collected, used or sold. The California State Legislature also is considering a bill at the state level that would give consumers more control over how their online behavior is tracked and shared with marketers and retailers.

What do these potential laws mean to consumers? Well, if one or more of them are finally passed into law, your electronic footprints, habits and on-line purchasing information will not be sold to organizations that you don’t know and don’t approve of. These types of laws need to be passed into law so the average consumer is not afraid to utilize all aspects and capabilities of our electronic frontier.

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