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Ten privacy and consumer groups have combined their efforts to seek changes in the draft privacy bill that is before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and Internet. The groups released a letter today with their proposed changes.

Last month Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Virginia), who is chair of the subcommittee, and the ranking minority member of the committee, Cliff Stearns (R-Florida), introduced a draft of a bill that would expand privacy protections both on- and off-line, requiring companies to allow consumers to opt-out of any data collection. IP addresses are on the list of information covered by the bill.

Their suggestions included:

— Incorporating the Fair Information Practice Principles, including the principle of not collecting more data than is necessary for the stated purposes, limits on how long data should be retained and a right to access and correct one’s data.

— Expanding the bill’s definitions of “sensitive information” to include health-related information beyond just “medical records.”

— Requiring strict “opt-in” procedures for the collection and use of data and a prohibition on the use of any sensitive information except for the transactions that consumers provided.

Read the letter here.

News release here: “Ten Privacy and Consumer Groups Ask Congressional Leaders to Strengthen Privacy Bill

The groups are:
— Center for Digital Democracy
— Consumer Federation of America
— Electronic Frontier Foundation
— Consumer Action
— Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
— Consumer Watchdog
— World Privacy Forum
— U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups
— Privacy Lives
— Privacy Times

See our May 5 blog entry “Is there a privacy law in the making for the U.S.?”

After Boucher and Stearns made the draft public, consumer and industry groups quickly showed their general dissatisfaction with the draft wording, which is expected to be changed after the two congressmen collect comments. Boucher and Stearns said they hope to introduce the bill formally in coming weeks. (Our blog piece here.)

Tom Kelchner