WASHINGTON, D.C.—Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV announced today that he will introduce legislation to provide consumers with the capability to better protect their personal information from being collected and used by online companies. The announcement comes as the Committee is also working on comprehensive legislation to increase cybersecurity following scores of high-profile hacking incidents against individuals, government and the private sector. Rockefeller said he would introduce his Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011 next week.
“Consumers have a right to know when and how their personal and sensitive information is being used online—and most importantly to be able to say ‘no thanks’ when companies seek to gather that information without their approval,” said Rockefeller. “This bill will offer a simple, straightforward way for people to stop companies from tracking their every move on the Internet.”
The Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011 would:
- Create a universal legal obligation for all online companies to honor consumer choice when consumers do not want anyone to collect information about their online activities;
- Allow the Federal Trade Commission to pursue enforcement action against any company that does not honor this request by consumers;
- If consumers ask not to be tracked, allow companies to collect only the information that is necessary for the website or online service to function and be effective, but then place a legal obligation on the online company to destroy or anonymize the information once it is no longer needed.
Chairman Rockefeller has led the fight for improved online consumer privacy protections. The Commerce Committee has held multiple hearings on the issue with government and private-sector stakeholders with a sixth hearing on the issue—this one focused on mobile privacy—to be held in May. The Committee has a long history of considering and moving privacy legislation, including the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the CAN-SPAM Act.