In the wake of recent revelations about commercial appropriation of consumers’ online data, the Obama Administration has stepped in with a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” relating to online data.
The proposal, unveiled Thursday, is designed to give consumers more control over how their personal data is used and to help businesses build trust with consumers. The White House has called on the Commerce Department to corral companies, privacy advocates and others to develop policies based on the plan. The White House also announced that Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL have agreed to submit to Do Not Track technology and provide consumers with a means to control their online privacy.
The proposed Bill of Rights deals with six areas of online data management:
- Transparency: Companies policies regarding security should be easily understandable to consumers.
- Respect for Context: Consumers should expect that companies will collect, use and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide such data.
- Security: Personal data should be handled securely and responsibly.
- Access and Accuracy: Consumers should be able to access and correct personal data.
- Focused Collection: Data collection should be held within “reasonable limits.”
- Accountability: Consumers have the right to have their personal data handled by companies and organizations that adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.
The proposal comes after Google was found to be tracking users’ data via their iPhones, a revelation that came as the company was being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission over various issues, including privacy. However others, including Facebook, have also faced government scrutiny over their privacy policies. The proposal also comes after SOPA, an attempt at federal government-led enforcement of another Internet issue — piracy. After a day of Internet protests in January, that proposal was shelved.
What do you think? Do we need the government to step in on this issue? Sound off in the comments.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Tom Lohdan
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