One month and three days after Consumer Watchdog called President Obama to endorse "Do Not Track" and online privacy legislation during his State of the Union address, the President has proposed a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. The White House has called upon Congress to pass legislation that will allow the FTC Federal Trade Commission as well as state attorney generals to support and enforce the framework of this bill. This bill will act as a guard for consumers rights, allowing consumers to say when, if, and how their personal information is both collected and used online.
This bill will also require businesses to be as transparent as possible about their data use practices as well, pushing businesses to further assure consumers that they've either not used their data at all or, if they have, that it's appropriately secured. According to Justin Brookman speaking with Information Week, the director for the non-profit civil liberties group Center for Democracy and Technology's Project on Consumer Privacy, the White House has been working on a bill - or a collection of laws that's now become this bill - for quite some time now:
"They've been working on this for a couple of years now. The biggest change is that they recognize that there should be legislation to make this happen, and that was our main criticism of the proposal before--that there may not be enough stick to get industry to the table without a law to make them follow certain rules." - Brookman
This bill also addresses the "Do Not Track" legislation called upon by Consumer Watchdog last month. In the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights announcement today, it was noted that the Digital Advertising Alliance has "reversed its opposition" to having the Do Not Track feature in browsers. The DAA has also noted that it is hoping to reach "related agreements" with browser developers by the end of the year - on what we must assume is more privacy options given to the user as a matter of fact-ly.
One thing you should note about this bill is that it does not protect against a lack of common sense. Consumers "pre-existing" relationships with groups such as Google and Facebook with their "+1" and "like" buttons are certainly going to continue to be tracked simply because it's the consumer that is opting in to the tracking. You can put guard rails up along the side of a road, but there's always the possibility that you're driving so erratically that you flip over the side anyway - and down the track hole you go!
You can have a full look at the announcements made by the White House today at WhiteHouse.Gov and note that this is not the first we've heard of such laws across the USA this week. Check out the timeline below for more privacy notes - especially the one from yesterday dropped in California - it's a doozy!