White House announces framework for Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights
February 28, 2012 - With action on comprehensive privacy legislation stalled in Congress, the White House unveiled a plan last Thursday to implement a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, according to ABM's lobbyist Tom Carpenter. However, without Congressional action, it is unclear if the Administration’s plan will amount to any new progress.
ABM has been heavily engaged in the privacy arena over the last several years, advocating for a business capacity exemption. Such an exemption would ensure that laws aimed at protecting consumer privacy do not limit the ability of BtoB companies to collect and use information about an individual in a business capacity.
At Thursday’s event, the Administration laid out plans for a multi-stakeholder process to develop enforceable codes to implement a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. The Administration also stressed the need for the US to develop a framework of privacy protections that are interoperable with those of our foreign allies and trading partners. Further, the White House touted an agreement with the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) where the DAA will now recognize browser based “opt-outs” from consumers wishing to control online tracking. Lastly, the Administration pressed Congress to pass baseline privacy legislation so that a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights could be fully implemented.
With such a big announcement, one would think that a comprehensive privacy overhaul might actually start moving again, but ABM’s Washington lobbyist, Tom Carpenter, thinks this is wishful thinking. “The problem is that you still need Congress to act in order to solve some of these complex privacy issues,” said Carpenter. “Voluntary agreement on enforceable privacy codes is a tall order when the advertising industry is having so much success with their own self-regulatory program for online behavioral advertising. And between election-year politics and a Congressional stalemate on privacy legislation, I just don’t see this process amounting to much,” added Carpenter.
As for ABM’s concerns regarding a business capacity exemption, legislation will also be the determining factor on that issue. “What we are watching is how potential legislation defines a consumer or an individual within privacy legislation. ABM believes that the law should only apply to someone in their personal or household capacity, so that will have to be clearly defined by legislation,” said Carpenter.
ABM will continue to monitor Congressional, Administrative and Regulatory action on privacy and will continue to advocate for BtoB information providers in the debate. ABM anticipates follow-up White Papers from the FTC and the Commerce Department on the subject in the near future and will provide updates as details emerge.