The Internet has become such an integral component in our daily lives that it is easy to forget how young it is. For comparison, video games precede what we now know as the World Wide Web by more than a decade. As a result of this, there’s been a sort of Wild West mentality online as governments around the world attempt to work out a way to handle the great beast. New steps toward a more regulated Internet will be taken today as the Obama administration pushes Congress to sign off on some new pro-user rules.
The “privacy bill of rights” is designed to protect Americans from the common practice of gathering and distributing the personal data of Internet users, the Wall Street Journal reports. The push to Congress is expected to come from Lawrence E. Strickling, the assistant secretary of commerce, during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, according to “a person familiar with the matter.”
The hoped-for new set of rules is meant to expand the authority of the Federal Trade Commission and establish a framework of enforceable statutes. The move is based on a December report from the Commerce Department which recommended, among other things, that companies should be required to ask for a personal permission to use personal data for any purpose other than its original intent. WSJ’s source also said that a proposal could eventually follow that gives consumers “the right to access information about themselves and to have the information stored securely.”
This is certainly a first step. The December report also called for the establishment of a privacy bill of rights, but this is the first sign that the Obama administration is acting on those recommendations. The unnamed source further confirmed that today’s push in Congress is just a starting point. With the legislation, officials will “begin a process of working with Congress” to lay out the fine points of the law’s privacy protections.
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