This morning, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was named chairman of a new Judiciary subcommittee for Privacy, Technology and the Law. The list of activities that the committee will oversee is a long one and it includes the collection of information for behavioral advertising and privacy in social networks.
“The boom of new technologies over the last several years has made it easier to keep in touch with family, organize a community and start a business. It has also put an unprecedented amount of personal information into the hands of large companies that are unknown and unaccountable to the American public. As chairman of this new subcommittee, I will try to make sure that we can reap the rewards of new technology while also protecting Americans’ right to privacy.”
All of this comes only days after two “Do-Not-Track” bills were introduced in Congress.
Jackie Speier, a congresswoman from California introduced the “Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011.” The act would give the FTC the power to force companies to offer an option that allows consumers to opt-out of internet tracking. A statement from Speier’s office went so far as to say, “Failure to do so would be considered an unfair or deceptive act punishable by law.”
On Thursday, Rep. Bobby Rush reintroduced his privacy bill which would require companies to get consent from any consumer they wished to track.
And that’s not all. Washington watchers say that a few more Representatives and Senators will be submitting their privacy bills over the next week such as Rep. Ed Markey who will introduce a bill specific to online privacy for children.
Privacy on the internet has become an oxymoron and it is about time that the laws caught up to the technology. In the meantime, internet companies are taking it upon themselves to put privacy protections into place with browsers that allow for opting out of tracking and stricter rules regarding the use of collected data.
But with so many government officials spearheading their own agendas it’s hard to imagine that any one of them will succeed in putting a reasonable plan into place. Certainly not any time soon.