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Reps. Boucher, Stearns Release Draft Privacy Bill

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet has released a discussion draft of privacy legislation.  As expected, the draft requires website operators to disclose what information is collected, how it will be used, how long it will be stored, and with whom it may be shared.  Internet users must be able to "opt-out" of collection and use of their information.  However, third party advertising networks that collect data across numerous unaffiliated websites must obtain explicit "opt-in" consent prior to using consumer data for targeting ads, unless the third-party network provided disclosure and choice opportunities to consumers.  The opt-in requirement would also apply to sensitive data, such as social security numbers and financial and medical data.  In the past, legislation such as this generally has applied only in the online environment, but this bill would apply to offline privacy as well. 
ANA has long been opposed to an opt-in regime for third-party behavioral advertising.  The future of the free internet depends on the use of consumer data in targeting advertisements to internet users.  We were instrumental in the development of self-regulatory principles for online behavioral advertising last year which govern the collection and use of consumer data for advertising purposes.  We are actively working on a strong self-regulatory system that would provide consumer notice and a stringent enforcement regime. 

Some online privacy advocacy groups are already criticizing the bill for not going far enough.  Even before the draft was released, these groups, in a letter to Chairman Boucher, were criticizing the bill's notice and consent requirements as "inadequate" and asking for a 24-hour limit on the use of consumer data, after which opt-in consent would be required. 

Chairman Boucher was joined in releasing the draft by the ranking member on his subcommittee, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL).  More information can be found on Rep. Boucher's website.

If you have any questions, you can reach Dan Jaffe in ANA's Washington office at 202-296-2359 or at djaffe@ana.net.

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