In response to a discussion draft of a new privacy bill currently under consideration by the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, Privacy Lives joined nine leading privacy and consumer organizations today in calling for much stronger provisions to protect consumer privacy both online and off.
The groups, including the Consumer Federation of America, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumer Watchdog, World Privacy Forum, Consumer Action, US PIRG, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, Privacy Lives, and the Center for Digital Democracy, raised their concerns in a letter (pdf) to Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher and Ranking Member Cliff Stearns.
Recognizing that “Consumers increasingly rely on the Internet and other digital services for a wide range of transactions and services, many of which involve their most sensitive affairs, including health, financial, and other personal matters,” the groups’ letter made a number of recommendations for strengthening the draft privacy bill, including:
- The bill should incorporate the Fair Information Practice Principles that have long served as the bedrock of consumer privacy protection in the U.S., including the principle of not collecting more data than is necessary for the stated purposes, limits on how long data should be retained, and a right to access and correct one’s data.
- The bill’s definitions of what constitutes “sensitive information” need to be expanded; for instance, to include health-related information beyond just “medical records.”
- The bill should require strict “opt-in” procedures for the collection and use of covered data and should prohibit the collection and use of any sensitive information except for the transactions for which consumers provided it.
“We are committed to working with you to achieve real privacy protection for consumers,” the letter concluded.
In addition to the comments in the letter the ten groups offered a draft “findings” section (pdf) to be included in the privacy legislation.