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National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling speaks at a White House event highlighting information economy and privacy February 23, 2012 in Washington, DC. The White House today announced a "bill of rights" which would give consumers increased online privacy protection and could eventually give the government increased powers to police online based corporations.
In the aftermath of a rash of online privacy violations and an increasingly complicated Internet "Do Not Track" situation, the Obama administration today issued a new online “bill of rights” in an attempt to move the issue forward. The White House says that the guidelines are an important step towards future legislation for a problem where the rapid advance of technology has often outpaced lawmakers’ ability to protect consumers. The guidelines are voluntary but not toothless; Commerce Secretary John Bryson said that corporations will likely be obliged to opt in as a good faith gesture to consumers and companies that enroll can face punitive actions by the FTC. The Obama administration also stated that it was important to act now given recent online privacy abuses. Google was recently discovered to be violating Apple’s web browser Safari’s privacy settings and Twitter and other smart phone apps were found to be clandestinely uploading users’ address books. The White House is hoping that this Internet privacy bill of rights will kick start the discussion in Congress about creating new laws to protect Internet users.
How can legislators stay ahead of technology when it comes to online privacy? What do you do to protect yourself as you surf the web?
David Pogue, technology reporter and columnist for the New York Times