Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) has announced that he will investigate the issue of online privacy and introduce legislation to protect consumers. Kerry noted that members of the House have also introduced privacy legislation. Kerry said:
Protecting the privacy of consumers online involves much more than the targeted advertising to which they are subjected. Such advertising is just one result of the information that is routinely collected about us online. In fact, the threat to our privacy is much more significant than the amount of data being collected, stored, and distributed about what we view, buy, or sell online. Our ability to control what information is collected, used, and disclosed about us is central to how we want the world to view us, and that, in turn, affects our ability to seek out opportunity in both social and economic spheres. But currently, there is widespread confusion among our constituents and colleagues about what power we have over those practices. […]
The solution to the new challenge to our identity lies in culture, technology, and law. As a matter of culture, we will need to grow more tolerant and be less quick to reach conclusions. As a matter of technology, firms should challenge themselves to design products and engineer services with high default standards for protecting privacy in mind. And as a matter of law, we need new baseline standards for privacy protection that ensure people’s identity is treated with the respect it deserves.
Our counterparts in the House have introduced legislation and I intend to work with Senator Pryor and others to do the same on this side with the goal of passing legislation early in the next Congress. The Commerce Committee, under Chairman Hollings a decade ago, considered similar privacy legislation. We have learned a great deal more about this issue over the past decade and working together I believe we will successfully enact this legislation next year.