Internet Privacy Gets White House Attention

President Obama to announce new regulations to control online use of personal privacy

President Barack Obama (White House photo)

The White House will announce today new sweeping regulations and seek Congressional approval of statutory authorities over the online privacy of consumers.
A paper was issued today signaling the President’s intentions entitled Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in a Global Digital Economy.

The recent scandals among computer giants like Apple, Google and Facebook have the concern of the President and he intends to move both to carry out new regulations with the Department of Commerce and propose new laws in Congress.

“Americans have always cherished our privacy,” said President Obama. “From the birth of our republic, we assured ourselves protection against unlawful intrusion into our homes and our personal papers. At the same time, we set up a postal system to enable citizens all over the new nation to engage in commerce and political discourse. Soon after, Congress made it a crime to invade the privacy of the mails. And later we extended privacy protections to new modes of communications such as the telephone, the computer, and eventually email.”

“Citizens who feel protected from misuse of their personal information feel free to engage in commerce, to participate in the political process, or to seek needed health care. This is why we have laws that protect financial privacy and health privacy, and that protect consumers against unfair and deceptive uses of their information.”

“I am pleased to present this new Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights as a blueprint for privacy in the information age. These rights give consumers clear guidance on what they should expect from those who handle their personal information, and set expectations for companies that use personal data. I call on these companies to begin immediately working with privacy advocates, consumer protection enforcement agencies, and others to implement these principles in enforceable codes of conduct.”

“My Administration will work to advance these principles and work with Congress to put them into law. With this Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, we offer to the world a dynamic model of how to offer strong privacy protection and enable ongoing innovation in new information technologies.”

This is a clear signal the free-for-all of internet commercialization of personal privacy may be coming to an end.

ComputerWorld reported that some regulations may be voluntary but gain legal sanction through Commerce enforcement.

“If a company commits to following a privacy code of conduct, that commitment will be enforced by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, said Daniel Weitzner, the White House’s deputy CTO. While adopting the privacy codes will be voluntary, many online businesses will want to consider them in an effort to retain the trust of their customers, officials said.” ComputerWorld