Friday, December 17, 2010

Commerce Department comes out with softer proposal for "Privacy Bill of Rights"

In light of the recent FTC proposal and House hearings, the Department of Commerce, in the Obama Administration, has published a paper, pdf link here, “Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework”, link here.

One underlying concept is what the media calls a "Privacy Bill of Rights", which would give users the right to control what information is collected about them and for what purposes. In theory, well educated users would allow some information to be kept if they benefited from the process. Curiously, the phrase doesn't come up in the document when searched.

Like the FTC, the Commerce Department is concerned about user transparency, and discusses a concept called PIA, or Privacy Impact Assessment. Another acronym is FIPP, Fair Information Practice Principles.

The proposal would call for companies to enroll in voluntary best practices programs, but those that do would be monitored by the Federal Trade Commission, with FECC, or “Flexible but Enforceable Codes of Conduct”.

Nevertheless, the Commerce Department seems to be backing away from the idea that government should mandate rules like requiring a vanilla “do not track”.

The CNN story by David Goldman appears here.

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