Today, Secretary John Bryson joined National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz for the unveiling of an online “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights ” (PDF) at an event at the White House. The Secretary spoke  about the need to protect consumers and encourage the growth of responsible online commerce.
As Secretary Bryson pointed out, millions of Americans shop, sell, bank, learn, talk and work online. Online retail sales are now nearing $200 billion annually in the U.S.
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. More and more consumers are concerned about their information being used only as intended.
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 includes seven basic protections that consumers should expect from companies:
- Individual control in what kinds of data companies collect
- Transparency in how those companies plan to use that data
- Respect for the context in which that data is provided and disclosed
- Secure and responsible handling of that data
- Ability of consumers to access and ensure the accuracy of their own data
- Reasonable limits on the personal data that online companies try to collect and retain
- And accountability for companies to have strong privacy measures in place at all times.
The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration will convene businesses, consumer groups, and other stakeholders to work toward consensus on codes of conduct based on this blueprint.
From there, companies can voluntarily choose whether to adopt these principles, and many of them will have a strong incentive to do so. For many companies, a meaningful fraction of their customers seek out strong privacy protections.
The Commerce Department also envisions that this plan will be of great interest internationally. We plan to support broad cooperation and consensus on this issue. After all, e-commerce is global by its nature. Overall, this as an important step towards fostering a culture of trust and respect for privacy among America’s businesses and consumers.