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    In the News: Consumer and Privacy Groups Warn of Online Tracking and Targeting of Consumers

    Privacy Lives joined 10 consumer and privacy groups in sending a letter (pdf) to Congress warning that “tracking and targeting of consumers online have reached alarming levels,” and outlining the protections any online privacy legislation must include. Industry self-regulation has not provided meaningful consumer protection and legislation is needed.

    “This tracking is an invasion of privacy… Consumers now rely on the Internet and other digital services for a wide variety of transactions,” the groups wrote. “These include sensitive activities, such as health and financial matters. In these contexts, tracking people’s every move online is not simply a matter of convenience or relevance. It presents serious risks to consumers’ privacy, security and dignity.”

    Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) chairman of the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, is expected to introduce online privacy legislation Tuesday.  The coalition’s letter was sent to all members of the U.S House of Representatives.

    The groups outlined principles and goals to protect consumers.

    • Robust Fair Information Practices are the key to legislation concerning online privacy.
    • Notice and choice are inadequate to protect consumers. Transparency is not enough if consumers have no real understanding or control.
    • Self-regulation for privacy will not protect consumers.
    • Law enforcement access to personal data should require a warrant.

    More coverage of the letter and the issues is at the Financial Times and the Los Angeles Times.

    The groups signed onto the letter are:

    Center for Digital Democracy
    Consumer Action
    Consumer Federation of America
    Consumers Union
    Consumer Watchdog
    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Privacy Lives
    Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
    Privacy Times
    U.S. Public Interest Research Group
    The World Privacy Forum

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