currently no rules set in place as it relates to the privacy of individuals and
how their personal information is used and shared on the internet.
A new privacy bill introduced on Tuesday would establish
rules requiring accountability from internet companies that utilize the private
information of individuals.
The bill would establish a regulatory framework for gathering personal data
about users on sites like Facebook and Google.
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) are spearheading a
measure that would force companies to explain how they collect information and
what they do with it.
"Consumers want to shop, browse and share information in an environment
that is respectful of their personal information," McCain said at a news
conference. "Our legislation sets forth a framework for companies to
create such an environment and allows businesses to continue to market and
advertise to all consumers, including potential customers."
The new bill, backed by the Obama administration, may also
make it harder for sites to use personal information to target and create
profiles on individual internet users.
Privacy Bill of Rights [PDF] would provide consumers with more control over their
personal information and how that data is collected and shared with third
Companies would need an individual's consent to collect names, e-mail addresses,
and credit card numbers if the bill becomes law. They would also need
consent to collect information about religion, sexual identity, medical
conditions and other sensitive information. An offer to opt out of data collection would be
required for users as well.
"Our bill seeks to respect the ability of businesses to advertise, while
also protecting consumers' personal information," said McCain.