Consumer Watchdog Warns Obama Not To Undercut Strong State Data and Privacy Laws

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today welcomed President Obama’s attention on consumer privacy and data breach issues, but cautioned that legislation he proposes must not provide weaker protection than is already offered by some state laws.

“It’s good that the president has re-focused on privacy and data security issues, but it would be terrible his proposals preempt stronger state laws and offer less protection.” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director. “Any national consumer privacy laws should be a floor, not a ceiling. States must be allowed to enact stronger measures.”

In speech at the Federal Trade Commission Obama said he would propose the Personal Data Notification and Protection Act that would set a 30-day data breach notification standard as well as the Student Data Privacy Act law that would prohibit tech companies from selling data collected from students or using it to sell ads.

Obama also said the Commerce Department will offer legislation within 45 days that would implement the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, first unveiled by the White House two years ago.

Details of the president’s initiatives were not immediately available.

“We’re concerned that in an effort to achieve bipartisan action there is a real possibility of passing loophole-laden legislation that actually makes things worse,” said Simpson.


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Published by John M. Simpson

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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