A group of 11 consumer and privacy advocacy organizations sent a letter to Congress today, urgently calling for additional protections they say should be included in any online privacy legislation.
The group is most concerned about the practice of tracking and targeting consumers online. Industry self-regulation hasn't gone far enough to protect consumer privacy, they say, which necessitates federal legislation.
“This tracking is an invasion of privacy… Consumers now rely on the Internet and other digital services for a wide variety of transactions,” the groups wrote, according to online reports. “These include sensitive activities, such as health and financial matters. In these contexts, tracking people’s every move online is not simply a matter of convenience or relevance. It presents serious risks to consumers' privacy, security and dignity.”
The group outlined a list of principles and goals that members believe would help protect consumers' privacy, including:
- The privacy of individuals should be protected even if the information collected about them in behavioral tracking cannot be linked to their names, addresses, or other overt identifiers.
- The ability of websites and ad networks to collect or use behavioral data should be limited to 24 hours, after which affirmative consent (opt-in) should be required.
- Personal data should be obtained only by lawful and fair means and, unless unlawful or impossible, with the knowledge or consent of the individual.