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Commerce Dept. Supports Privacy Bill

The Administration backs consumer data privacy legislation that includes a privacy bill of rights and codes of conduct produced in concert with industry and enforceable by the FTC, but it also stresses there are necessary limits to government action.

That is according to the prepared testimony of Cameron Kerry, general counsel of the Commerce Department and a veteran cable attorney, for a June 29 Senate commerce Committee hearing on privacy and data security.

Kerry advises the committee that while it contemplates consumer data privacy legislation (which includes a bill co-sponsored by his brother, Sen. John Kerry [D-Mass.]), there are key limitations it needs to observe. 

They are:

Legislation should not create "overly burdensome regulatory requirements" for businesses that already adhere to the privacy principles embodied in that legislation.

Legislation should be technology neutral, both so that firms have compliance flexibility, including to adhere to the principles but use data in ways the bill might not anticipate.

Legislation should be a basis for greater cooperation between nations and reduced compliance "burdens" for U.S. companies abroad.

Kerry said there were already signs of potential for better international cooperation. "Last week I was in Budapest to speak with European data privacy commissioners and, while we have much further to go in our discussions with Europe, and much remains uncertain about the final shape of the EU's revised Data Privacy Directive, we see encouraging signs of potential for interoperability and harmonization from the other side of the Atlantic," he said, adding: "U.S. enactment of legislation establishing comprehensive commercial data privacy protections will help."