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Consumer groups: Kerry-McCain online privacy bill “an important step forward”

News Release

Consumers Union – Consumer Federation of America

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Consumer groups: Kerry-McCain online privacy bill “an important step forward”

WASHINGTON, D.C. Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, and Consumer Federation of America today praised Senators John Kerry and John McCain for introducing bipartisan legislation to provide safeguards for online privacy.

Ioana Rusu, Regulatory Counsel for Consumers Union, said, “This is an important step forward in giving people more control over their personal information online. For the first time, all businesses would have to operate under consistent, mandatory standards for online privacy protection. To us, that’s progress.”

Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection at Consumer Federation of America, said, “We hope that this is a foundation that we can build on to give consumers the privacy protections they need.”

Under the bill, consumers would be able to opt out of behavioral tracking of online activity by third-party marketers. The bill would set a higher standard for collecting, using, or sharing consumers’ most sensitive data, including information about medical conditions or certain types of financial information. Consumers would have to give affirmative consent – an opt in – for any use of this type of data. These protections would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.

Rusu said, “As the process moves forward, we want to work with the key stakeholders to provide consumers greater do-not-track protections, as well as protections aimed specifically at teens online.”

The groups have long advocated for privacy reforms to give consumers greater choice and control over how their personal online information is tracked and shared.

For a copy of the letter, please contact David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org, or Kara Kelber, kkelber@consumer.org.