December 16, 2010
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WASHINGTON – The Commerce Department issued a report today identifying the need for comprehensive privacy protections on the Internet that would provide a baseline privacy framework for Americans’ personal information and urging that those privacy protections be enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The report, “Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework,” also calls for a necessary overhaul of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), originally passed in 1986. The American Civil Liberties Union, along with a coalition of other privacy and civil liberties groups, has been urging Congress to make much-needed changes to ECPA. Today’s report also highlights the need for global standardization of privacy protections. The United States is one of the few industrialized nations without a comprehensive data privacy law.

“We commend the Commerce Department for identifying the need for comprehensive protections of Americans’ privacy. For too long, Americans have been ill-served by a patchwork of privacy laws that contain broad gaps and loopholes,” said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Not only do those gaps increase the risk of identity theft, they also allow for the compilation of profiles on every citizen that can be shared with employers and the government.”

The FTC released its own report earlier this month calling for the implementation of strong protections for Americans’ online activity and endorsed the creation of a “do not track” list. A “do not track” list would allow consumers to opt out of having their online activity tracked, stored and shared with private companies for targeted advertising use. The ACLU supports the creation of a “do not track” list as it would create a barrier against unwarranted surveillance and targeting of Americans.
“We need bright, clear lines when it comes to the access that law enforcement and private companies have to Americans’ online information. It is time for Congress to act and pass strong, comprehensive legislation to safeguard our privacy,” added Calabrese.
The Commerce Department’s report can be found here:

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