by CIO Staff

Firms to Congress: Federal Privacy Law Needed

Jun 21, 20062 mins

A group made up of 12 large firms on Tuesday told Congress it wants detailed federal consumer-privacy legislation passed, to help curb what it sees as rapidly decreasing consumer trust in Web safety, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The group’s members include eBay, Google, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, among others, according to the Journal, and they told Congress they want a “simplified, uniform but flexible legal framework,” in support of “the free flow of information and commerce, while providing protection for consumers from increasing incidents of identity theft, fraud and intrusions of privacy.”

The recently established Consumer Privacy Legislative Forum presented its joint statement at a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on federal privacy regulations, according to the Journal. 

Parties within the group are concerned that the many state and industry-specific privacy laws passed in recent years make compliance extremely difficult and time-consuming, and they don’t significantly improve consumers’ eroding trust of the Internet, the Journal reports.

The following is taken from the group’s statement: “Because a national standard would preempt state laws, a robust framework is warranted. Legislation should provide protections for consumers from inappropriate collection and misuse of their personal information and also enable legitimate businesses to use information to promote economic and social value,” according to the Journal.

Meg Whitman, eBay’s chief executive, vehemently argued for a comprehensive federal law that would pre-empt state or local laws, and she also expressed support for Federal Trade Commission enforcement and argued against private right of action, or providing consumers with the right to pursue private, class-action suits, the Journal reports.

A number of congressmen and congresswomen said they also thought a detailed federal consumer-privacy law is called for, according to the Journal.

“It is time now for a broader, more comprehensive approach. Individual stop-gap measures are no longer enough,” Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said, according to the Journal.

The Consumer Privacy Legislative Forum was formed last winter, and on Tuesday, it added nine new members including Intel, Oracle, Sun Microsystems and Symantec, the Journal reports.

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