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    Boston Globe: Push in Congress for Web users to control data

    UPDATE: Kerry has told the Boston Globe that he misspoke: Google has not given initial support to his not-yet-public privacy legislation. “The Massachusetts Democrat has discussed the bill with Google officials but those talks are still ongoing, according to Kerry’s office.”

    Among the several privacy bills being debated, and some not yet introduced, is one by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). The Boston Globe interviews him, and critics, about privacy online and offline and how to better protect consumers:

    Congress is preparing to wade into the largely invisible and, for most consumers, mysterious practices employed by Google, Facebook, and other websites to harvest information about the individual preferences of computer users, fueling a battle that could shape the future of the Internet.

    Consumers would have more say in how their browsing habits and personal data can be used to customize advertising for their personal tastes, under Senate legislation being drafted by Senator John Kerry, with Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. Kerry said in an interview yesterday that individuals would never tolerate a private detective secretly recording their every move for the benefit of marketing agencies, so why, he said, should they permit it on the Internet? […]

    The legislation, which would let consumers refuse to have their browsing history shared with marketers, could be introduced as early as next week. Although details have not been disclosed, Kerry said he has won the initial support of Internet giants Google and Microsoft and continues to consult with Facebook. He also has consulted with consumer and privacy advocates.

    For Internet companies, Kerry said, “it’s better to have a standard established by Congress than have the Federal Trade Commission impose something.’’ […]

    Kerry said his legislation will be based on the concept that consumers deserve proper notice that their personal information is being collected and stored, and should have the right to opt out of data collection if they so choose.

    “You can block some, block all — have a choice,’’ said Kerry. “Nothing is more precious in America than your privacy.’’

    The legislation would be enforced by state attorneys general and the FTC, according to Kerry’s office.

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