The continuing deterioration of privacy and multi-party security due to short-sighted and unsustainable practices within our industry has begun to have the inevitable result, as reported by this article in the New York TImes.
A Commerce Department task force called for the creation of a ‘Privacy Bill of Rights’ for online consumers and the establishment of an office within the department that would work to strengthen privacy policies in the United States and coordinate initiatives with other countries.
The department’s Internet Policy Task Force, in a report released on Thursday, said the “Privacy Bill of Rights” would increase transparency on how user information was collected online, place limits on the use of consumer data by companies and promote the use of audits and other forms of enforcement to increase accountability.
The new protections would expand on the framework of Fair Information Practice Principles that address data security, notice and choice — or the privacy policies many users agree to on Web sites — and rights to obtaining information on the Internet.
“The simple concept of notice and choice is not adequate as a basis for privacy protections,” said Daniel J. Weitzner, the associate administrator for the office of policy analysis and development at the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration [emphasis mine – Kim].
The article makes the connection to the Federal Trade Commission's “Do Not Track” proposal:
The F.T.C., in its report on online privacy this month, also called for improvements to the practice principles, but focused on installing a “do not track” mechanism that would allow computer users to opt out of having their information collected surreptitiously by third-party companies.
That recommendation caused concern in the online advertising industry, which has said that such a mechanism would hamper the industry’s growth and could potentially limit users’ access to free content online.
[The prospect of an online advertising industry deprived of its ability to surreptitiously collect information on us causes tears to well in my eyes. I can't continue! I need a Kleenex!]
“America needs a robust privacy framework that preserves consumer trust in the evolving Internet economy while ensuring the Web remains a platform for innovation, jobs and economic growth,” the commerce secretary, Gary F. Locke, said in a statement. “Self-regulation without stronger enforcement is not enough. Consumers must trust the Internet in order for businesses to succeed online.”
All of this is, in my view, just an initial reaction to behaviors that are seriously out of control. As information leakage goes, the surreptitious collection of information” to which the NYT refers is done at a scale that dwarfs Wiki Leaks, even if the subjects of the information are mere citizens rather than lofty officials of government.