Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday introduced a commercial privacy bill (PDF) meant to protect the collection, use and distribution of consumers' personal information.
Kerry, McCain introduce commercial privacy bill
Called the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011, the bill outlines a series of privacy rights for consumers and obligations for companies, including requirements that those who collect personal information notify individuals about why and how they are collecting it and implement security measures to protect the data. The legislation also directs state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the bill's provisions without allowing for simultaneous enforcement by both the FTC and a state attorney general.
In addition, it creates voluntary safe-harbor programs, which the senators said will provide an incentive for participants to design or customize procedures for compliance and be exempt for certain requirements of the bill. For participants to join those programs, however, they would have to achieve protections that are at least as rigorous as those included in the bill. The legislation directs the U.S. Commerce Department to convene stakeholders to develop applications for safe-harbor programs submitted to the FTC.
In a news release, McCain said the bill provides a framework for companies to create an environment in which consumers can shop, browse and share information in a way that still respects their personal information.
"However, the bill does not allow for the collection and sharing of private data by businesses that have no relationship to the consumer for purposes other than advertising and marketing," McCain said. "It is this practice that American consumers reject as an unreasonable invasion of privacy."
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