The Obama Administration is taking some bold steps in the area of Internet privacy that would not only create new legislation but also a new position to oversee the changes, which would involve the dissemination of consumer data. Indeed, a task force headed by Cameron Kerry, brother of Sen. John Kerry, and Christopher Schroeder, assistant attorney general with the Department of Justice has already been up and running for a few weeks.
Whether there will be any major legislative changes in light of recent election results, though, remains to be seen. As noted by the Wall Street Journal, Republicans, who now control the House of Representatives, may be reluctant to vote for any measure that would expand the powers of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the body that currently enforces Internet privacy issues.
As it currently stands, the FTC can take up a cause where an alleged privacy violation is “deceptive” or “unfair,” but short of that, they are generally powerless. The FTC is currently preparing a report that is expected to support a “do-not-track-tool” that would allow consumers to opt out of online surveillance techniques by companies.
Proponents of new regulations call the current Internet situation “a Wild West” that has failed at attempts to self-regulate; the result, they say, is the rampant buying and selling of computer data without any rules or limits.
On the other hand, those against any government action in this area argue that the Internet industry itself is taking care of this issue.
A Commerce Department spokesman has said that the Obama Administration is “committed to promoting policies that will preserve consumer privacy online while ensuring the Web remains a platform for innovation, jobs, and economic growth. These are complementary goals, because consumer trust in the Internet is essential for businesses to succeed online.”
What do you think? Does the United States need Internet privacy legislation to limit the buying and selling of personal data?