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Stearns Privacy Bill Balances Consumer, Corporate Needs Stearns Privacy Bill Balances Consumer, Corporate Needs Stearns Privacy Bill Balances Consumer, Corporate Needs Stearns Privacy Bill Bala...

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Stearns Privacy Bill Balances Consumer, Corporate Needs

April 13, 2011

The congressional push to enact major online privacy legislation intensified Wednesday when Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., followed through on his pledge to introduce a comprehensive measure that he began crafting in the last congressional session.

The "Consumer Privacy Protection Act" seeks to strike a balance between consumer and corporate interests by requiring websites to better inform visitors about how their personal information is used while relying on self-regulation by companies for compliance.

Stearns is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which plays a key role shaping telecom and Internet policy.

The measure was offered one day after Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced comprehensive privacy legislation in the upper chamber that also seeks compromise between the often competing interests of consumer groups and online companies. To read more about the Kerry-McCain measure, click here

Here's the announcement from Stearns' office:



WASHINGTON, APRIL 13, 2011 - "Assuring consumers a high degree of online privacy will promote greater use of the Internet, allowing it to continue to expand and to thrive," stated Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL). "This bill, the Consumer Privacy Protection Act, requires covered entities to provide consumers in clear and easy to understand language what information is being collected and how the information is being used.

It also provides incentives for covered entities to enter into strong self-regulatory standards." Stearns is Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and serves on the Committee's Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over privacy issues.

Stearns has a strong record on privacy. As former Chairman of the Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee where the jurisdiction existed, he held the most extensive congressional hearings on privacy and offered privacy legislation following the hearings. In the last Congress, Stearns worked with Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), Chairman of the Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee, in developing draft privacy legislation.

Added Stearns, "Using my privacy legislation from the 109th Congress as a base, I took the comments submitted to Chairman Boucher and worked with stakeholders on developing this bill. The introduction of this bill is not the end of the process. I will continue to work to improve the language to ensure that regulatory distinctions are not being made on like services and that privacy is administered by a single agency, across the entire Internet economy.

I am grateful to Rep. Matheson for extending his support for this bipartisan bill and I look forward to working with Chairwoman Bono Mack on enacting online privacy legislation to protect consumers."

The Consumer Privacy Protection Act of 2011 specifically would:

• Require covered entities to notify consumers that their personally identifiable information as defined in the bill may be used for a purpose unrelated to the transaction.

• Require entities to notify consumers of any material change in their privacy policy.

• Require covered entities to establish a privacy policy with respect to the collection, sale, disclosure for consideration, or use of the consumer's information and such policy be made easily available for consumers.

• Require an entity to provide consumers the opportunity to preclude the sale or disclosure of their information to any organization that is not an information-sharing partner.

• Provide for a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved five-year self-regulatory program and prescribes requirements for a self-regulatory consumer dispute resolution process.

• Require the FTC to presume that an entity is in compliance with this Act if it participates in an approved self-regulatory program.

• No private right of action.

• Full state preemption.

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