Volume: 9 Issue: 2
The Obama Administration issued - on 22 February - a 'Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights', as part of its comprehensive blueprint to protect individual privacy rights, while ensuring that the internet remains competitive and continues innovating.
Under the framework, the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration will bring together internet and consumer advocates to develop codes of conduct for specific sectors - that implement the principles laid out in the Bill of Rights, and which will be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The six principles under the framework promote individual control over personal data, transparency in how companies process personal data, and a requirement that data be processed in ways consistent with the context in which data was provided, among others. Accountability also features as one of the principles. 'Companies should be accountable to enforcement authorities and consumers for adhering to those principles...[and] should hold employees responsible for adhering to these principles', read a press release. 'Where appropriate, companies should conduct audits.' "The report is a critical building block in the development of a comprehensive privacy regime'', said Lisa Sotto, Partner at Hunton & Williams LLP. ''It does not put its faith entirely in the stakeholders to implement the Bill of Rights through Codes of Conduct; it also calls for legislation, as well as stronger FTC enforcement authority. It appears the Administration is taking a 'trust but verify' approach to designing a new US framework. It also sets out broad, general principles that hark back to the traditional fair information practice principles - but with a modern twist. The principles are deliberately broad so as to allow companies flexibility in determining how to most effectively implement them in light of the multiplicity of data-driven business models.'' Also announced was leading internet companies and online advertising networks extending their commitment to use Do Not Track technology, so users may control online tracking. The Administration announced that Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft have agreed to this FTC-enforceable commitment. There are also plans for increasing interoperability between the US data privacy framework and foreign frameworks, a move which shows that it is ''clearly seeking to enhance the credibility of the US in the international privacy arena'', said Sotto.