Consumers Union: Senate Hearing on Online Privacy “Very Encouraging”

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We empower consumers through education and action about communication and media issues involving telephone, cable, Internet and wireless services and equipment.

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 16, 2011 — The White House today called on Congress to pass an online “privacy bill of rights,” marking the first time that a presidential administration has endorsed a baseline bill to protect consumer privacy.

Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence Strickling called for legislation during a hearing held by the Senate Commerce Committee.  Also speaking in favor of online privacy protections was Federal Trade Commission Chairman (FTC) Jon Leibowitz.  Sen. John Kerry, who serves on the committee, said he was working with fellow members to introduce a bill.

Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, has been pushing for legislative and regulatory solutions to provide consumers with greater control over the way their information is collected, stored, used and shared online.

Ioana Rusu, regulatory counsel for Consumers Union, said, “Whenever you have people from the White House, the FTC, and the Senate in the same room saying we need to move forward on online privacy legislation, that’s very encouraging.  As the process continues, we’ll keep pressing hard to ensure consumers’ voices are heard.  We need a comprehensive privacy framework, grounded in legislation and enforced by the FTC.  For too long, consumers have carried the entire burden of protecting their personal data online, by being forced to read and understand complex privacy policies that were drafted more with an eye towards legal compliance than consumer understanding.”

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Contact: David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org, or Kara Kelber, kkelber@consumer.org, 202-462-6262