Kerry-McCain Web Privacy Bill a Step in the Right Direction
News Analysis: The "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights" proposed by U.S. Senators John Kerry and John McCain is a sensible way to give Web users more control over how their personal information is used without imposing an impractical technical standard.The Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011 is a very important departure from the usual Congressional attempts at putting rules on the Internet in that it avoids two big traps: First, it doesn't define specific technical standards in the rules that it attempts to impose on Internet enterprises and users. Second, the bill was developed with the help of the industry to create a law that would both protect users of the Internet and also be something that legitimate Web companies could implement relatively easily without having a big negative impact on their operations. This bill, written by U.S. Senators John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) and John McCain (R-Arizona), differs from proposed "Do Not Track" legislation in that it avoids defining a specific technical standard, such as the Do Not Track flag offered by some browsers. Instead, it attempts to regulate a business practice that has been shown to be badly needed.
Basically, the new law, assuming this legislation eventually passes in both houses of Congress, would make it illegal for companies to collect private information on their Websites without explicit permission from the person from whom the information is being collected. In addition, it would explain to users what was being done with the information, how it would be used, who would use it and what would be done with it in the future.