“Do Not Track Me Online” Privacy Bill

Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced the first “do not track” bill in the House of Representatives on Friday, February 11, 2011.  The “Do Not Track Me Online Act” requires the Federal Trade Commission to promulgate regulations “that establish standards for the required use of an online opt-out mechanism to allow consumers to effectively and easily prohibit the collection or use of any covered information and to require a covered entity to respect the choice of such consumer to opt-out of such collection or use.”

Covered entities include anyone engaged in interstate commerce that collects covered information from more than 10,000 individuals, or stores information from more than 15,000 individuals, in any 12-month period.  Covered information is defined as (1) online activity of an individual, including web sites and content accessed, the date and time of online access,  and the location of the computer used for online activity;  (2) any unique identifier such as a customer number or IP address; (3) personal information such as name, address, email address, telephone or fax number, financial account or credit card number, security or access code, and government-issued identifications number such as tax IDs, passport numbers, or driver’s license numbers.  The proposed Act would also protect “sensitive information” such as medical records, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, financial information and bank account numbers, and Social Security numbers.

Under the Act, state attorneys general would enforce the privacy regulations and have power to issue injunctions against covered entities that violate the law and to assess civil penalties.  In a statement issued by her office, Rep Speier stated that “[f]ailure to [respect opt-out requests] would be considered an unfair or deceptive act punishable by law.”

For additional information, see the February 11 article in the online Los Angeles Times Technology section.

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