March 10th, 2011

Proposed Bill Would Put Curbs on Data Gathering

The Wall Street Journal

Sens. John McCain and John Kerry are circulating proposed legislation to create an “online privacy bill of rights,” according to people familiar with the situation, a sign of bipartisan support for efforts to curb the Internet-tracking industry.

Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican, and Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, are backing a bill that would require companies to seek a person’s permission to share data about him with outsiders. It would also give people the right to see the data collected on them. The bill is expected to be introduced ahead of a Senate Commerce Committee hearing next Wednesday on online privacy.

The move comes amid widening scrutiny of the tracking industry. In the past year, The Wall Street Journal’s “What They Know” series has revealed that popular websites install thousands of tracking technologies on people’s computers without their knowledge, feeding an industry that gathers and sells information on their finances, political leanings and religious interests, among other things.

In another sign of Washington’s efforts to regulate tracking, the Obama administration is moving to fill two key jobs related to privacy policy. People familiar with the matter said the administration is in talks with Jules Polonetsky, who currently heads the Future of Privacy Forum, an industry-funded think tank, to run a new privacy office in the Commerce Department. Mr. Polonetsky was previously chief privacy officer at online-advertising companies AOL Inc. and DoubleClick, now part of Google Inc.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704629104576190911145462284.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection

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