Proposed ‘Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015’ Under Attack

By Richard NewmanMarch 2, 2015

On February 27, 2015, following President Obama’s announcement last month that the administration would be pushing for a consumer privacy bill of rights, the Administration posted the “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015."  The proposed legislation is aimed at restricting how companies may handle consumer data.

In short, the draft bill would require companies to prominently notify users what data they collect and  how they use it.  It aims to ensure that the information is protected, to allow consumers to access their records and to require deletion after the data has fulfilled its purpose.  The draft bill restricts the collection of data to that which is “contextual,” in other words, not having it re-used or sold in unanticipated ways.  The proposed bill also provides that if a person withdraws his or her consent for data collection, a company has 45 days to delete the information.

The proposal comes on the heels of the Federal Communications Commission's vote early this week to enact strong net neutrality rules.

Privacy advocates believe that the proposal contains numerous loopholes and is not strict enough.  They are critical that the proposal would effectively preempt stronger state legislation and that it would not give the Federal Trade Commission the power to set regulations and, consequently, to enforce the principles.  Rather, the FTC would conceivably approve rules set forth by companies and industry associations. 

It is anticipated that Senator Markey will introduce his own legislation shortly that will give additional privacy safeguards to consumers to curb third party use of private consumer data. 

Technology companies believe that the proposal is an overbroad regulatory sledgehammer that will stifle innovation that could benefit consumers. 

The proposed bill will undoubtedly endure numerous revisions before being voted on by the House and Senate.  If passed, the FTC, state AGs and individuals will be empowered to initiate civil action against violators.

Information conveyed in this article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor should it be relied upon, as legal advice. No person should act or rely on any information in this article without seeking the advice of an attorney

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