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Consumer Watchdog Calls on Commerce Department To Offer Privacy Legislation

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Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 11:08 am

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Consumer Watchdog Calls on Commerce Department To Offer Privacy Legislation

Says Proposed “Multi-Stakeholder Process” Must Be Fair, Transparent and Credible

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on the U.S. Department of Commerce to offer legislation to implement the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights proposed by the Administration.

In comments filed with the Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group said, “Calls for action in policy papers are easy. The test of commitment is to translate high-minded principles like the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights into real legislative language.”

The White House issued its privacy proposal, Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Innovation in the Global Digital Economy, in February. The white paper called for baseline privacy legislation that would implement a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, but offered no draft legislation.

The white paper proposes a “multi-stakeholder process” convened by NTIA in which enforceable codes of conduct for industry would be developed.

“Actual draft legislation would help move the multi-stakeholder process forward,” wrote John M. Simpson, the group’s Privacy Project director. “Consumer Watchdog strongly urges you to draft privacy legislation before you convene the multi-stakeholder process.”

Click here to read Consumer Watchdog’s comments to NTIA.

“Consumer Watchdog believes that the most vexing issue the multi-stakeholder process faces is the different levels of financial resources that will be available to support stakeholders’ involvement,” Simpson wrote.

Consumer Watchdog believes the first task will be to agree upon the procedures that will be followed in the process. Once they have been agreed upon, Consumer Watchdog suggested that these topics could be among the first to be considered:

·      Data collection and use practices in the mobile sector;

·      Data collection and retention by search engines;

·      Disclosure of government surveillance requests by online companies;

·      Cloud computing privacy standards;

·      Data brokers – consumer access to data and the right to correct;

·      Facial recognition and facial detection software;

·      Social media companies’ use of consumers’ personal information.

“Consumer Watchdog pledges to make a good faith effort to help develop the multi-stakeholder process that NTIA envisions and to use the process to advance consumers’ privacy protections,” the comments concluded. “If the multi-stakeholder process is to succeed, it must be representative of all stakeholders and must operate under procedures that are fair, transparent, and credible. Steps must be taken to ensure all stakeholders have the financial resources necessary to participate. Falling short of these basic principles will doom the process to failure.”

Consumer Watchdog also cited basic baseline principles signed by eleven of the nation’s leading civil liberties, privacy and consumer groups as necessary to ensure a fair multi-stakeholder process.

Click here to read those principles.

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Visit our website at www.ConsumerWatchdog.org

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This post was written by:

John M. Simpson

- who has written 350 posts on Inside Google.

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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