Apparently all the recent debate concerning the privacy of Internet users has reached the top of the U.S. government, as the White House recently released the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, which focuses extensively on the security of American's information when they are surfing the web.
"American consumers can't wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online," said President Barack Obama."As the Internet evolves, consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy. That's why an online privacy bill of rights is so important."
The bill of rights highlights recommendations that companies should follow when collecting and storing the information of Internet users. According to the White House, following these guidelines will both improve consumer privacy while upholding the innovation and economic growth opportunities available online.
This is admittedly a small step for online privacy, and one that really lacks any teeth to back it up. However, the White House's bill of rights can serve as movement in the right direction and a basis for any online privacy legislation that may be forthcoming.
Released as part of the larger report, Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy, the privacy bill of rights covers many areas aimed at protecting the consumer.
For example, the document calls for transparency and accountability on the part of the company collecting information. It states that American consumers have the right to understand how their data is being collected and tracked and for what purpose. And the companies doing so must take the appropriate data security measures to protect the information, the bill of rights states.
It also says that companies should restrict the use of data to only the context through which it was collected. Organizations should only collect a certain amount of data, as well.
After all, as Obama said, upholding the protection of consumers' personally identifiable information is good practice for all stakeholders involved.
"For businesses to succeed online, consumers must feel secure," the president said. "By following this blueprint, companies, consumer advocates and policymakers can help protect consumers and ensure the Internet remains a platform for innovation and economic growth."
The move has been met with plenty of criticism, however, from end users and data privacy advocates alike. The latest was handed down by the National Association of Attorneys General, which sent an open letter to Larry Page, the CEO of the search giant.
The 36 attorneys general, which include a mix of both Democrats and Republicans, also requested a meeting with Page to discuss their concerns before March 1, when the policy will take effect.
“The new policy forces consumers to allow information across all of Google’s products to be shared without giving them the proper ability to opt out,” the attorneys general said in their letter.
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