President Barack Obama is about to tear the wrapping off an apparent gift to Internet privacy advocates, the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. The bill’s goal is to “protect all Americans from having their information misused by giving users new legal and technical tools to safeguard their privacy” from user data hogs like web giants Google, Apple and Microsoft. The measure will address your ability to control the information gathered about you as well as “transparency, respect for context, security, access and accuracy; focused collection and accountability.”
Naturally, the bill will take web companies’ interests into account as well:
The President’s privacy framework assures that as new Internet services develop privacy rules will keep up with, and not hamper, the pace of innovation. This framework takes advantage of the flexibility of self-regulatory processes but assures that new codes of conduct are guided by a comprehensive, forward-looking set of privacy principles and that all interested parties such as consumer advocates have a voice in the process.
CNET noted that this bill coincides with growing criticism of giant companies like Google for their lax protection of individual consumers’ online privacy. That’s why the portion of the White House announcement detailing the meaning of “Individual Control” may make the more staunch privacy advocates suspicious: “Companies should provide consumers appropriate control over the personal data that consumers share with others and over how companies collect, use, or disclose personal data.” (Emphasis added.)
Skeptics of the strength of the bill may ask: who determines what is “appropriate?”