May 052010
 
 May 5, 2010  Posted by  Business, Featured News, Laws, Online

As anticipated, the reactions to the draft proposal unveiled by Rick Boucher and Cliff Stearns are all over the place.

Chloe Albanesius of PC Magazine has a selection of responses from privacy groups involved in a phone conference call with reporters earlier today. Some of the quotes:

“This bill really adopts and endorses an archaic … notice and consent regime that we know does not work,” said John Simpson from Consumer Watchdog.

Simpson said Internet companies will likely be thrilled by the bill.

“I can’t imagine that the industry would be happier if they’d written a bill themselves,’ he said. “This basically gives them absolutely everything they want with no meaningful protection for consumers whatsoever. To describe it as industry-friendly is an understatement.”

[…]

Ginger McCall, staff counsel with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), said that the opt-out requirements “simply maintains the status quo” while the state pre-emption clause denies the states a more innovative solution to combating violations.

Evan Hendricks, editor and publisher of Privacy Times, did not mince words.

“No bill would be better than this bill,” he said. “This is a non-starter. I don’t feel compelled [to thank Boucher for his efforts], but I will thank him if he realizes that this thing should be buried.”

While privacy groups generally panned the draft proposal for not offering enough protection, the Progress & Freedom Foundation issued a statement that says, in part:

By mandating a hodge-podge of restrictive regulatory defaults, policymakers could unintentionally devastate the “free” Internet as we know it. Because the Digital Economy is fueled by advertising and data collection, a “privacy industrial policy” for the Internet would diminish consumer choice in ad-supported content and services, raise prices, quash digital innovation, and hurt online speech platforms enjoyed by Internet users worldwide.

Before imposing prophylactic regulation, policymakers should first identify specific consumer harm that requires government intervention. They should next ask whether there are less restrictive alternatives to regulation, such as enhancing enforcement of existing laws, bolstering limitations on government access to online data, education efforts about online privacy, and promoting the development and uptake of technological empowerment solutions that allow users to manage their own privacy preferences.

And still trying to avoid government regulation, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)
issued a press release right before the proposal was unveiled: IAB Increases Transparency in the Use of Data in the Interactive Advertising Industry; Releases “Data Usage & Control Primer: Best Practices & Definitions.”. Emily Steel describes IAB’s reaction to the draft proposal in the Wall Street Journal:

The bill’s definitions for personal information and sensitive data are too broadly defined, says Mike Zaneis, vice president of public policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an industry trade group whose members include more than 375 media and technology companies, such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo and AOL. He notes that the definition could apply to standard tracking cookies, devices that Internet companies use to store information about visitors to websites. Mr. Zaneis says that requiring websites to ask permission each time before they collect and use such data could interrupt users’ experience on the sites.

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