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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

New Bill Proposes Increased Internet Privacy

Charlotte Spangler |
April 20, 2011 | 4:41 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

John Kerry, along with John McCain recently proposed the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights, a bill to increase internet security.
John Kerry, along with John McCain recently proposed the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights, a bill to increase internet security.
If a recently proposed congressional bill passes, America’s internet privacy could be helped significantly. 

 On April 12, Senators John Kerry and John McCain proposed the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011, which would keep internet user information private from independent companies.

 Their bill of rights includes: the right to notice, consent, access, and correction of inform, the right to security and accountability, and the right to data minimization, constraints on distribution, and data integrity.        

In a press release, Kerry stated, “Americans have a right to decide how their information is collected, used, and distributed and businesses deserve the certainty that comes with clear guidelines. Our bill 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. This is a win for bi-partisanship, a win for consumers, a win for the Internet and a win for businesses online and off. Most importantly, in a Washington where partisanship and division too often triumphs, it’s a victory for common sense.”

Rainey Reitman, a representative of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that advocates for online privacy, explained to the Christian Science Monitor that this bill “could provide some meaningful controls for users.”

 Reitman said new legislation would give users the right to access and change the data companies are storing. This feature would be good for both advertisers and consumers, giving companies more up-to-date information.

“If you used to live in a snowy area, and now live in Florida, you may no longer be as interested in skiing as you used to be,” says Reitman.

Kerry and McCain, however, have been under fire for not including a “Do Not Track” universal opt-out provision in their privacy bill.  “Do Not Track,” is a campaign for internet providers to allow customers to opt-out of web tracking, similar to the Do Not Call registry.  So far, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Safari have implemented this feature.

California state Sen. Alan Lowenthal introduced a bill on April 4 to restrict online tracking. If passed, it would be the first Do-Not-Track law in the country. Debate is scheduled to begin on April 26, reported eWeek.

Reach reporter Charlotte Spangler here

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