Friday, July 23, 2010

IAB, Consumer Advocates Weigh In On Privacy Laws

A senior Republican lawmaker expressed concern on Thursday that a privacy bill introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) could impose too many restrictions on businesses.

"We must craft legislation that creates an incentive for businesses to subscribe to the very best practices," Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) said at a hearing on Rush's proposal. Stearns criticized several aspects of Rush's bill, including that it would allow consumers to bring lawsuits against companies that violate the law, and that it delegates too much power to the Federal Trade Commission.

Stearns had signed on to an earlier proposal floated in May by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), which differs in a few key ways from Rush's bill the Best Practices Act (H.R. 5577).

Rush's measure would require Web companies to obtain users' explicit permission before sharing their personal information with third parties, unless those companies participate in a "universal opt-out" program operated by a self-regulatory program and overseen by the Federal Trade Commission. Rush also would allow consumers to sue privately for up to $1,000 per violation, with damages capped at $5 million per incident.

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