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Remarks at White House Event on Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

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AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Thursday, February 23, 2012
CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
202-482-4883

Commerce Secretary John Bryson
Remarks at White House Event on Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

Thank you, Gene Sperling. And thanks to everyone for being here today. I know we have a broad representation of privacy experts, consumer groups, Internet companies and others here today.

As we all know, millions of Americans shop, sell, bank, learn, talk and work online. In fact, in the U.S., online retail sales are now nearing $200 billion annually.

Yet we have all seen stories of consumer data being lost, compromised, or stolen.

Privacy and trust online has never been more important to both businesses and consumers.  An increasing number of consumers are concerned about their information being safe and being used only as they intended.

Today, we need strong online protections for consumers.  At the same time, we need to provide businesses with principles to help guide their privacy policies and decisions.

And we need this now. We cannot wait.

The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights will help:

  • protect consumers’ personal data;
  • provide businesses with better guidance on how to meet consumers’ privacy expectations, and
  • ensure that the Internet remains a strong platform for commerce, innovation, and growth.

This blueprint was created with input from consumer groups, industry, academia, and technical experts.  It includes 7 basic protections that consumers should expect from companies:

  1. Individual control in what kinds of data companies collect;
  2. Transparency in how those companies plan to use that data;
  3. Respect for the context in which that data is provided and disclosed;
  4. Secure and responsible handling of that data;
  5. Ability of consumers to access and ensure the accuracy of their own data;
  6. Reasonable limits on the personal data that online companies try to collect and retain, and
  7. Accountability from companies for strong privacy measures.

We will be working with Congress to implement this through legislation.  But we’re moving forward regardless. Again, we cannot wait.

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will convene businesses, consumer groups, and other stakeholders. These stakeholders will work toward consensus on codes of conduct based on this blueprint. This approach gives us more speed and flexibility than the traditional regulatory process. 

From there, companies can voluntarily choose whether to adopt these principles.  As a former CEO, I know that many of them will have an incentive to do so.  I had this experience. In many cases, a meaningful fraction of their customers seek out strong privacy protections.

Already, it is great to see commitments to tools that allow for more individual control. This includes the Digital Advertising Alliance and its community of Internet advertising and media companies.

Finally, we envision that this plan will be of great interest internationally. We plan to support broad cooperation and consensus on this issue. E-Commerce, after-all, is global by nature.

This blueprint is an important step towards fostering a culture of trust and respect for privacy across America’s businesses and consumers. 

Let me close by saying I want to thank Jon Leibowitz and the FTC for their efforts.

And, again, I want to thank all of you here today who continue to be such strong voices on this issue. Thank you, and I’ll turn this over now to Stu Ingis.

Thank you, Gene. And thanks to everyone for being here today.  I know we have a broad representation of privacy experts, consumer groups, internet companies, and others here today.

 

As we all know, millions of Americans shop, sell, bank, learn, talk and work online. In fact, in the U.S., that online retail sales are now nearing $200 billion annually.[1]

 

Yet we have all seen stories of consumer data being lost, compromised, or stolen.

 

Privacy and trust online has never been more important to both businesses and consumers.  An increasing number of consumers are concerned about their information being safe and being used only as they intended.

Today, we need strong online protections for consumers.  At the same time, we need to provide businesses with principles to help guide their privacy policies and decisions.

 

And we need this now.  We cannot wait.

 

The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights will help:

ü  protect consumers’ personal data

ü  provide businesses with better guidance on how to meet consumers’ privacy expectations, and

ü  ensure that the Internet remains a strong platform for commerce, innovation, and growth.

 

This blueprint was created with input from consumer groups, industry, academia, and technical experts.  It includes 7 basic protections that consumers should expect from companies:

ü  Individual control in what kinds of data companies collect

ü  Transparency in how those companies plan to use that data

ü  Respect for the context in which that data is provided and disclosed

ü  Secure and responsible handling of that data

ü  Ability of consumers to access and ensure the accuracy of their own data

ü  Reasonable limits on the personal data that online companies try to collect and retain

ü  And accountability from companies for strong privacy measures.

We will be working with Congress to implement this through legislation.  But we’re moving forward regardless.  Again, we cannot wait.

 

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will convene businesses, consumer groups, and other stakeholders.  These stakeholders will work toward consensus on codes of conduct based on this blueprint. This approach gives us more speed and flexibility than the traditional regulatory process. 

 

 

From there, companies can voluntarily choose whether to adopt these principles.  As a former CEO, I know that many of them will have an incentive to do so.  I had this experience. In many cases, a meaningful fraction of their customers seek out strong privacy protections.

 

Already, it is great to see commitments to tools that allow for more individual control.  This includes the Digital Advertising Alliance and its community of Internet advertising and media companies.

 

Finally, we envision that this plan will be of great interest internationally.  We plan to support broad cooperation and consensus on this issue. E-Commerce, after-all, is global by nature.

 

This blueprint is an important step towards fostering a culture of trust and respect for privacy across America’s businesses and consumers. 

 

 

 

Let me close by saying - I want to thank Jon Leibowitz and the FTC for their efforts. 

 

And, again, I want to thank all of you here today who continue to be such strong voices on this issue.   Thank you, and I’ll turn this over now to Stu Ingis.