March 16th, 2011
White House to Push Privacy Bill
The Wall Street Journal
The Obama administration plans to ask Congress Wednesday to pass a “privacy bill of rights” to protect Americans from intrusive data gathering, amid growing concern about the tracking and targeting of Internet users.
Lawrence E. Strickling, an assistant secretary of commerce, is expected to call for the legislation at a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee, said a person familiar with the matter.
This person said the administration will back a law that follows the outlines of a report issued by the Commerce Department in December. The administration wants any new rules to be enforceable and will look to expand the Federal Trade Commission’s authority, this person said.
Among other things, the December report suggested that companies should ask an individual’s permission to use personal data for a purpose other than for which it was collected. The administration also eventually could propose that consumers be given the right to access information about themselves and to have the information stored securely, the person said.
The administration’s plan to push for legislation reflects a shifting attitude by the government, which for more than a decade favored a hands-off approach to the Internet. Officials have said the increasing intrusiveness of online tracking has forced them to reassess that approach.
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.