New Web Privacy Legislation

There’s been a fair amount of publicity recently about new federal privacy legislation introduced on May 4 by congressmen Rick Boucher and Cliff Sterns. Here’s a link to Representative Boucher’s (D. Va.) Web site that gives a summary of the bill. Major points? It affects any company that collects personally identifiable information. If so, the bill would require the site to post “a clearly written, understandable privacy policy” (good luck with that one). It sets out an opt-out procedure rather than an opt-in procedure for folks who’d rather not provide information. But if the site wants to share any personally identifiable information with unaffiliated third parties, the affected individual must grant express permission. The FTC would be responsible for enforcing the measure. I found two things sort of interesting about Rep. Boucher’s Web site. First, he looks a little like Les Nessman from the old WKRP in Cincinnati show. Second, and ironically, when you click on the tab at the bottom of the Web site marked “privacy policy” nothing happens. Maybe that will change when the legislation passes.