White House Expected to Release Final Privacy Report Thursday

The White House has scheduled a noon privacy event at the Executive Office Building, where it is expected to unveil its final version -- white paper -- on commercial business privacy, which is the White House's position on the issue directed to Congress and industry.

The core of that proposal was a privacy bill of rights and the launch of negotiations between consumer groups and industry -- mediated by the Commerce Department -- on a privacy protection regime that could both protect consumers and allow Internet players like Google and Facebook expand into international markets increasingly concerned about privacy.

The document is the final version of a preliminary "green paper" report initially issued in December 2010. After public comment on that report, Commerce concluded that legislation would be helpful to set rules of the road on privacy protection.

But with legislation unlikely this year, the report is expected to put more emphasis on consumer groups and stakeholders getting together to come up with some agreement on protecting online privacy.

Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, who has long pushed for online privacy protections for teens as well as kids, said the White House is placing the issue "under a powerful new spotlight. Consumer groups expect to be involved in negotiating with industry over a set of safeguards that would help protect privacy." But he also suggests that is only an interim step or, to extend the color theme, a "blueprint" for action, "until more effective legislation can be enacted."

Scheduled to attend the White House event are National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, Secretary of Commerce John Bryson and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz. 

The FTC is expected to release the final version of its own online privacy report in the next few weeks.

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.