White House Unveils Online Privacy 'Bill of Rights' to Protect Internet Users

Paul Lilly

The Obama administration on Thursday laid out its blueprint for a "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights" as part of a larger initiative to improve online privacy protections and to give users more control over how their personal information is used on the Internet. Part of this initiative involves an agreement with advertising networks and leading Internet companies to get on board with Do Not Track technology, which is baked into most major browsers.

"American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online," said President 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. For businesses to succeed online, consumers must feel secure. 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 Consumer Bill Bill of Rights provides a baseline of seven fundamental protections, including:

  • Individual Control: Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data organizations collect from them and how they use it.
  • Transparency: Consumers have a right to easily understandable information about privacy and security practices.
  • Respect for Context: Consumers have a right to expect that organizations will collect, use, and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data.
  • Security: Consumers have a right to secure and responsible handling of personal data.
  • Access and Accuracy: Consumers have a right to access and correct personal data in usable formats, in a manner that is appropriate to the sensitivity of the data and the risk of adverse consequences to consumers if the data are inaccurate.
  • Focused Collection: Consumers have a right to reasonable limits on the personal data that companies collect and retain.
  • Accountability: Consumers have a right to have personal data handled by companies with appropriate measures in place to assure they adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

This is just the beginning. In the coming weeks, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration will establish specific practices and codes of conduct related to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

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