Obama administration plans to develop privacy codes of conduct for industry
Although we have witnessed attempts by Congress to act on the issue of online privacy, there has not been a general consensus reached among lawmakers that would allow for privacy legislation to pass Congress. In the absence of congressional action, there are new signs that the Obama administration intends to take the lead on developing an alternative privacy regulatory framework.
Commerce Department General Counsel Cameron Kerry has signaled that, in lieu of congressional action, the Department of Commerce will include plans for convening stakeholders to develop voluntary privacy codes of conduct for private companies in the final draft of its Green Paper on privacy, which is due later this fall. Although the draft Green Paper that was released in December did not call for a set of base line privacy regulations, Commerce has since called on Congress to enact a regulatory framework and has even supported the approach taken by Sens. John Kerry and John McCain in their comprehensive privacy bill. General Counsel Kerry noted that any privacy codes put forward by the administration would need to have stronger enforcement provisions than the current self-regulatory models put forward by industry. Commerce is expected to call on the Federal Trade Commission to approve and enforce such codes. There have been some in Congress, as well as representatives from the industry, who have voiced their concern that a regulatory or legislative approach to privacy will be too rigid and will not be able to adapt to new technologies.
Experian® will continue to advocate for effective, enforceable self-regulation that protects consumer privacy without inhibiting innovations in Internet commerce. In the meantime, it will be critical for the online advertising industry to continue to follow the Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising that was implemented earlier this year.