VIRTUAL POWER BROKERS
While the 107th Congress is just starting to take shape, so are the outlines of their likely moves to make policy guiding privacy online — a hot-button issue for politicians and consumers alike. Members of Congress who are expected to be principal players in the matter all advocate that Web sites be required to prominently post privacy policies that are clearly written. Their opinions diverge, however, as to when a site should have to ask a consumer for permission to use their personal data and in what manner.
Following is a rundown of the views of some of the movers and shakers in privacy legislation:
Sen. Ernest (Fritz) Hollings (D., S.C.): Web sites could collect and disclose personally identifiable information only from people who opt-in for them do so. Users could sue sites for violations.
Sens. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) and Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.): Web sites could use and share consumer information unless an individual decides to opt-out. They would also make it illegal to send spam with false identification. Accessing personal information by fraud would become a crime.
Sen. Robert Torricelli (D., N.J.): Would restrict disclosure of consumer information to third parties unless users opt-in.
Sens. Conrad Burns (R., Mt.) and Ron Wyden (D., Ore.): Favor enabling Net destinations to disclose personal data unless people opt-out, and allowing consumers to access their own information.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.): Also supports an opt-out privacy protection bill and wants to set standards for granting law enforcement agencies access to Net users’ information.
Rep. Edward Markey (D., Mass.): Wants Web sites to adapt opt-in privacy policies and make personal data accessible to cybersurfers.
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R., N.J.): Favors allowing Internet players to use people’s information internally unless those visitors opt-out.