Kerry, McCain Introduce Privacy Bill

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Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and  John McCain (R-Ariz.) Tuesday introduced their bill to protect online -- and offline -- privacy.It would include a combination opt-out/ opt-in regime for the use of online surfer's info, opt-out for info used in behavioral targeted marketing, opt-in for sharing sensitive personal info or changes in privacy policies.

The Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011, S. 325, establishes a framework to protect the personal information of all Americans both online and offline. A draft of the bill has been circulating for several weeks.

Kerry signaled last summer the bill was coming. The Commerce Department has recommended the Bill of Rights approach. Commerce general counsel Cameron Kerry, John Kerry's brother, was one of the lead players in formulating that approach.

The goal is to come up with enforceable voluntary privacy codes of conduct, with the Federal Trade Commission overseeing compliance.

The senators' bill of rights would include the right "secutiry and accountability," the right to "notice and participation' and rights to "data minimization, constraints on distribution, and data integrity.

Included in the notice and accountability section are clear notice and an opt-out regime for behavioral targeted marketing info shared with third parties and an opt-in regime for sensitive personally indentifiable info--other than for transactions or services requested by the individual--and for any material change in privacy protection practices.

A coalition of privacy advocates including Consumer Watchdog, the Center for Digital Democracy, and Consumer Action, said Tuesday that the bill needs to be "significantly strengthened" before they could support it.

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