On Wednesday, the Obama administration went very public about online privacy.
President Barack Obama’s top advisor on communications and information policy, Lawrence E. Strickling, told the Senate Commerce Committee that the administration now backs enforcement of a new “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” by the Federal Trade Commission. The endorsement comes months after the President’s Internet Policy Task Force issued a paper that set a rough framework for navigating the tricky balance between consumer privacy interests and commerce. It also comes after a series of House bills on the issue, and as Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, crafts a bill that would ultimately lead to new protections for consumers.
The Obama Administration’s endorsement heralds new federal oversight into the technology industry—one of the President’s chief financial supporters. Only last month, President Obama dashed out to Northern California and Oregon for a round of meetings with CEOs of firms like Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Intel that many interpreted as a fundraising prelude to the 2012 reelection effort.
In December, the Department of Commerce called for the consideration of a “privacy bill of rights,” which would force companies to make clear what consumer data they collecting online, and how it will be used. Then, In January, the administration hosted a Stanford conference of cyber-security academic and industry experts. The chief goal: developing a strategy which would push companies to make clear their identities to consumers before they engage in highly sensitive transactions, like checking banking accounts, pulling health records from hospitals, or refilling medical prescriptions.