Dec 022010
 
 December 2, 2010  Laws, Online

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today submitted testimony calling on Congress to prevent the tracking of consumers’ online activity without their express permission and restrict the use and storage of data collected by companies.

Blumenthal provided his testimony to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, which today held a hearing on do-not-track proposals.

“Congress should implement the closest possible Internet equivalent of the do-not-call list, enabling consumers to say a simple ‘no’ to snoopers,” Blumenthal said. “Options may include an opt in, requiring sites to obtain specific permission to track and sell data or buttons on Internet browsers that consumers could push requiring sites not to collect information.

“Holding Internet data indefinitely is deeply disturbing and disquieting — a 1984ish nightmare. Internet trackers should be required to routinely dump data, as well as inform users what information they collect and how it is used and obtain an opt in.

“Consumers must not sacrifice privacy to surf the net. Legal Internet activity — what we search for, what sites we visit, what we buy and read — is nobody’s business. Spying to sell products is still spying, an insidious and intolerable violation of the right to privacy and being left alone.

“The Internet is a force for good and progress, but can threaten privacy and liberty. Powerful protections are vital to prevent spying on Internet users.”

Blumenthal called on Congress to:

  • Require the Federal Trade Commission to adopt rules governing the conduct of any entity that collects data than can be directly linked to a specific consumer, computer or other device, including data collected in online contexts, and regardless of whether the entity interacts directly with the consumer;
  • Require any entity collecting such personal information – or which collected such information prior to the establishment of an opt-in authorization — to provide a clear, concise notice of the collection and use of such information;
  • Prohibit any entity from collecting such personal information unless the consumer affirmatively authorizes such collection and use for marketing purposes;
  • Prohibit any entity that has previously collected such personal information from using or disseminating such information unless the consumer affirmatively authorizes such collection and use for marketing purposes;
  • Enact the same civil penalties for the unauthorized collection or use of private consumer information as contained in the Do Not Call law – an unfair or deceptive trade practice and a fine of up to $16,000 per violation.

Source: Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

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