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Obama online privacy plan faces challenge

Jaikumar Vijayan | Feb. 24, 2012
Privacy advocates Thursday said they welcomed a White House privacy plan that would let consumers control how their personal data is collected, used, stored and shared by websites and online advertisers.

"CDT has always thought that the best approach to privacy is to have high level rules enacted by Congress followed by some kind of processes which would create Safe Harbors for people who agree to [voluntary] codes of conduct," she said.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center said the government faces a significant challenge in implementing the plan.

"The President has set out an excellent framework," he said. But "implementation and enforcement will be an enormous challenge."

One immediate test of the strength of these proposals will be the FTC's response to Google's plans to integrate consumer data across all of its applications, Rotenberg said.

"If the Federal Trade Commission, with a consent order in hand, cannot take action, then it does not seem that voluntary guidelines will do much to safeguard online privacy," he said.

Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, an online privacy group, called the "White House's new framework ... an important development to protect consumers in the digital age. "

However, he noted that its success relies on difficult negotiations between consumer groups and powerful Internet companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and others.

However, the new framework largely depends on the development of voluntary codes of conduct created from negotiations between consumer groups and companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and others. "We cannot accept any "deal" that doesn't really protect consumers, and merely allows the data-profiling status quo to remain," Chester said.


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