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White House releases 'privacy bill of rights': what it promises online consumers

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The document outlines seven rights all consumers should have and the White House says it will work with Congress to pass legislation in these areas:

  • Individual Control: Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data organizations collect from them and how they use it.
  • Transparency: Consumers have a right to easily understandable information about privacy and security practices.
  • Respect for Context: Consumers have a right to expect that organizations will collect, use, and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data.
  • Security: Consumers have a right to expect their data will be stored and transmitted securely. 
  • Access and Accuracy: Consumers have a right to access and correct personal data in usable formats, in a manner that is appropriate to the sensitivity of the data and the risk of adverse consequences to consumers if the data are inaccurate.
  • Focused Collection: Consumers have a right to reasonable limits on the personal data that companies collect and retain.
  • Accountability: Consumers have a right to have personal data handled by companies with appropriate measures in place to assure they adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

The Digital Advertising Alliance, an online advertising consortium whose members include Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and others, announced Thursday that it would add features to browsers that would let consumers modify their preferences on how their data would be used. The group also pledged within nine months to create a feature for web browsers that lets consumers choose a "do-not-track" option.

That latter measure was a big step in the right direction for privacy advocates.

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