Pressure grows for online privacy bill

Senator John F Kerry is calling for an online privacy bill to give people more control over how their personal information is collected and distributed online.

The bill would create standards on how consumer information could be gathered and used, and would give users control over the process.

“Protecting the privacy of consumers online involves much more than the targeted advertising to which they are subjected. Such advertising is just one result of the information that is routinely collected about us online,” says Kerry.

“And, as a matter of law, we need new baseline standards for privacy protection that ensure people’s identity is treated with the respect it deserves. Our counterparts in the House have introduced legislation, and I intend to work with Senator Pryor and others to do the same on this side.”

He says he’s aiming to get the legislation enacted early next year.

The proposal comes as part of a Senate Commerce Committee hearing into the issue.

Federal Trade Commission chairman Jonathan Leibowitz warned that most users had no idea what data wa being collected and how it was used, and called for information to be shared only on an opt-in basis.

But Google, Facebook, Apple and AT&T – all of which have recently been involved in major privacy scandals – told the hearing that they believed their existing privacy mechanisms were adequate.