President Gets More Input on Privacy Bill of Rights

The President's draft legislation on enforcing the 2012 privacy bill of rights continued to get mixed reviews on Capitol Hill.

The administration released the draft Feb. 27; it focuses on promoting voluntary codes of conduct that would give companies a safe harbor.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) praised the bill as a good start. “This is a positive first step and I want to applaud the Administration for their efforts in protecting consumers," he said. "Privacy is an issue that is near and dear to me, and I consider myself a strong privacy advocate and champion of consumer protection. However, like with most first drafts, after reviewing this summary I do have questions. If the Administration is serious about trying to legislate privacy protections, I will try to work with them in a bipartisan fashion.”

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), another strong privacy advocate, saw the glass as more empty than full, at least when it came to enforcing real privacy protections on companies.

“I think all Americans have a fundamental right to privacy — and it's especially important in light of advancing technologies that continually threaten to outpace our laws,” said Franken, who is the ranking member on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law. “I commend the President’s renewed interest in data privacy, because it’s important that we establish new measures to protect consumers. But I have concerns that his proposal lacks the necessary teeth to hold companies accountable for their privacy policies and to ensure robust protections for consumers’ information. The American people deserve more meaningful control of their personal information, and they should be able to make informed decisions about who is getting their information and who it’s being shared with. The President’s proposal, unfortunately, doesn’t do that. It takes control away from consumers and puts it back in the hands of companies.”

The Obama administration has been trying to enforce privacy principles on facial recognition and mobile apps through voluntary stakeholder initiatives, to mixed reviews.

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.