Yesterday Senators John Kerry and John McCain introduced their “Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act” in its final form to Congress. The much-debated bill was a far cry from the Federal Trade Commission’s recommendations that would have enforced the use of a government-defined opt-out mechanism which might have severely restricted the tracking of website users.
In other words, the industry dodged a bullet. After at times seeming to take to street corners to scream “the end is nigh,” it turns out the government didn’t actually want to take their cookies away.
Websites would still have to receive a user’s consent to collect and store sensitive personal information such as credit card numbers, religious affiliations and health issues. Companies would have to offer users the option to opt-out of data collection entirely and offer users information on how the information collected would be used by marketers. The bill permits companies to determine how that consent is solicited and defined.
This bill effectively allows the advertising industry to self-regulate within the bounds of already established consumer privacy recommendations by the DAA. The doomsday scenacios haven’t come to pass.
BlueKai CEO Omar Tawakol said the bill is mostly a positive for the industry, although he cautioned legislation goes through many permutations along the long process of becoming law.
Another good sign for the industry: the bill sparked outrage from consumer activist organizations, such as Consumer Watchdog and The Center for Digital Democracy, which have stated that the bill offers no true protection from tracking and removes the FTC from its traditional role in policing consumer privacy issues.