Federal Privacy Bills Introduced

Two important privacy bills were recently introduced in the House. The Best Practices Act (H.R. 611) is a legislation that seeks to establish a set of ground rules and privacy minimums to assist consumers in protecting their personal information, particularly as they engage in online, Internet-based commerce and entertainment. The Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011 (H.R. 654) seeks to give consumers the ability to prevent the collection and use of data on their online activities. Details of the two pending bills are below. The Best Practices Act Representative Bobby Rush introduced The Best Practices Act (H.R. 611) which seeks to establish a set of ground rules and privacy minimums to assist consumers in protecting their personal information, particularly as they engage in online, Internet-based commerce and entertainment. In introducing his privacy bill, Congressman Rush believes that a proper balance of important interests, on both sides of the supply and demand equation, is important-especially as it relates to the further evolution of the Internet ecosystem. Key highlights of this legislation include the following: Ensure that consumers have meaningful choices about the collection, use, and disclosure of their personal information. Require companies that collect personal information to disclose their practices with respect to the collection, use, disclosure, merging, and retention of personal information, and explain consumers' options regarding those practices. Require companies to provide disclosures of their practices in concise, meaningful, timely, and easy-to-understand notices, and direct the Federal Trade Commission to establish flexible and reasonable standards and requirements for such notices. Require companies to obtain "opt-in" consent to disclose information to a third party. In the bill, the term, "third party" would be defined based on consumers' reasonable expectations rather than corporate structure. Establish a "safe harbor" that would exempt companies from the "opt-in" consent requirement, provided those companies participate in a universal opt-out program operated by self-regulatory bodies and monitored by the FTC. Require companies to have reasonable procedures to assure the accuracy of the personal information they collect. The bill would also require the companies to provide consumers with reasonable access to, and the ability to correct or amend, certain information. Require companies to have reasonable procedures to secure information and to retain personal information only as long as it's necessary to fulfill a legitimate business or law enforcement need. The Best Practices Act (H.R. 611) can be found here. The Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011 Representative Jackie Speier introduced the Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011 (H.R. 654) which seeks to establish a set of ground rules and privacy minimums to assist consumers in protecting their personal information, particularly as they engage in online, Internet-based commerce and entertainment. The Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011 would direct the Federal Trade Commission to develop standards for a "Do Not Track" mechanism that would allow individuals to choose upfront to opt out of the collection, use or sale of their online activities, and require covered entities to respect the consumer's choice. Failure to do so would be considered an unfair or deceptive act punishable by law. The covered entity would have to disclose its collection and sharing practices, including with whom the information is shared. The bill would allow the FTC to exempt commonly accepted commercial practices like the collection of information for billing purposes. The Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011 (H.R. 654) can be found here. To learn more about The Lustigman Firm's Privacy Law practice, click here.

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