Groups Want White House To Put Teeth in Privacy Bill of Rights

More than three dozen groups including Consumers Union, NAACP, and the Center for Digital Democracy, are asking the White House to come up with legislation to put some teeth into the Administration's Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

That came in letter being sent to the White House Monday (Feb. 24) on the second anniversary of the President's proposal.

To date, the FCC has been pushing industry to come up with self-regulatory guidelines to implement those privacy rights. So far the National Telecommunications & Information Administration and Federal Trade Commission have convened stakeholder meetings to come up with mobile app privacy guidelines--they are being tested but not all stakeholders are signed on--and just two weeks ago began tackling facial recognition guidelines

The White House supports a legislative solution, but legislation does not sail through Congress in the most collegial of times, which these aren't. So it has been urging stakeholders to come to the table, while at the same time saying legislation is an important backstop.

In their letter, the groups argue that industry self-regulation has failed and an opt-out regime "forces consumers to check their privacy settings every time a company changes its business model."

They say that the need for privacy laws has never been greater, whether it is retailers who lost their credit card data or intelligence agencies who gather phone records, and that the White House needs to lead on a privacy bill that could pass in Congress.

"We urge you to work with those in Congress who favor the privacy rights of Americans, who support updates to privacy law, and who understand why this issue is so critical to so many Americans. And let those who stand in the way explain to their constituents why they believe that it is not necessary for Congress to do anything further to protect the fundamental rights of Americans."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.