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President Obama: “American consumers can’t wait any longer…." Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy


At the White House February 23, 2012, President Obama unveiled his administration’s framework for new privacy regulations and the long-awaited white paper entitled “Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World:  A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy.”   This follows up on the Department of Commerce “green paper” issued well over a year ago.    [We compared the Commerce Department proposal and Federal Trade Commission privacy proposals last year -- here for your reference.]

The blueprint includes a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” along with steps to incorporate these principles into federal regulations.    Like the previous Green Paper, today’s final report calls for a comprehensive privacy framework for all data, instead of the current sector-specific approach to data protection that leaves some personal data (outside of the communications, health care, education, financial services and children’s-online sectors) largely unregulated. The Framework calls for federal legislation to create such a “privacy bill of rights” that would supplement and fill in the gaps of existing federal privacy policy and lays the groundwork for a cooperative approach between government and industry for a “4P” arrangement — a “Privacy Public Private Partnership.”

In addition, the White House announced the first by-product of this framework:  an industry agreement on “Do Not Track” technology for online behavioral advertising.   This industry agreement was signed by a group of web advertising networks, inlcuding Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL, and is intended to lead to the adoption of “Do Not Track” features integrated into web browsers.  The intent is to allow consumers to opt out of behavior-based marketing, blocking ad “cookies” and preventing cross-site tracking of behavioral information.  Companies signing onto this agreement are now subject to Federal Trade Commission oversight and enforcement of its terms.

Further information:

Statement from FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz

Statement from Intel

Statement from Center for Democracy & Technology

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About this Author

Cynthia Larose, Privacy, Security, Attorney, Mintz Levin, Law Firm, electronic transactions lawyer

Cynthia is Chair of the firm’s Privacy & Security Practice and a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP).  She represents companies in information, communications, and technology, including e-commerce and other electronic transactions. She counsels clients through all stages of the “corporate lifecycle,” from start-ups through mid- and later-stage financings to IPO, and has broad experience in technology and business law, including online contracting issues, licensing, domain name issues, software development, and complex outsourcing transactions.

Cynthia has extensive...