Google Joins Obama's Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

Google has become part of President Barack Obama's Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, but so far it's the only big tech company in Silicon Valley that has signed on. Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL have also partnered with the president for a Do Not Track button to be placed on their Web browsers.

The Obama administration views the privacy bill of rights as a necessity for Americans so they can control how their personal information is used on the Internet.  “American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online,” Obama said in a statement. “As the Internet evolves, consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy. That’s why an online privacy Bill of Rights is so important.”

The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights gives protections for consumers and parameters for businesses. These rights are:
  • 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 secure and responsible handling of personal data.
  • 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 privacy bill of rights is part of the White House report, "Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy."

What we find interesting is that only Google is part of the team. Apple, Facebook or Twitter are not even mentioned. We all know that Obama has a cordial relationship with Eric Schmidt, so perhaps that explains some of it, because we would like to think other tech companies care about consumer privacy.

While some critics said Obama's move was a good start, the lack of details could just mean more political grandstanding. "The principles are genuinely good," Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told CNET. "The problem is that there is no plan for implementation or enforcement."

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