Congressman Bobby Rush, (D-Ill.), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, has released his draft of a bold consumer privacy bill, called the Best Practices Act.
In May, Rep. Boucher, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, reinvigorated the conversation around baseline consumer privacy legislation when he circulated a draft consumer privacy bill for comment. Chairman Rush’s bill builds on the groundwork of Boucher's draft but goes further to include a full set of fair information practices.
Both the Rush bill and the Boucher draft address basic concerns of consumers. A Zogby poll released last month found that 88% of Americans believe that companies "tracking where an Internet user goes on the Internet without the user's permission is an unfair business practice," and a September 2009 study showed that over 60% of Americans believe there should be laws prohibiting advertisers from retaining data about them.
CDT President Leslie Harris will be testifying Thursday at a hearing on the bill and will provide a full analysis in her written testimony. However, at first glance Chairman Rush’s legislation seems to move the discussion further along by keeping many of the best parts of the Boucher draft while addressing many of the concerns raised by CDT and others. Like the Boucher’s draft, Chairman Rush’s proposed legislation covers personal information collected in both the online and offline spheres and presents a set of baseline rules outlining the rights of consumers and the obligations of companies with respect to consumer data. The bills provide incentives to companies incentives for companies to innovate in ways that promote user privacy through inclusion of a safe harbor provision.
By introducing his bill, Chairman Rush has taken an important step toward aligning U.S. policy with the desires and expectations of American consumers. We look forward to further action by Congress on this important piece of legislation.