Expect a New Privacy Bill from the House
Consumers can expect a new Bill from the Democratic House regarding new online safeguards to privacy issues. These new measures are predicted to revamp current internet marketing efforts. The bill will have Republican support, as it is considered part of much needed regulations and gap fillers on the subject consumer privacy issues.
The chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, Rich Boucher, stated that the “goal in doing this is to enhance the confidence that Internet users have that their experience on the Web is secure.” He goes on to explain that there is general agreement about the meat of the bill, and that the House is very nearly ready to discuss an applicable draft of legislation to be considered at hearing.
The bill is expected to include opt-in and opt-out provisional sections which would measure the level of consent that consumers using online venues to purchase items would give to companies mining data.
Boucher’s subcommittee and the Energy and Commerce Committee have been at work determining a plethora of stakeholders in the debate on consumer privacy. Boucher also agreed that the advertising and marketers who utilize the Web, state that their advertising is the bread and butter for raising revenue for their content and applications. They state that they have to target ads that bring them premium rates. The benefits are not lost on the consumers, who are able to see better graphics, and rich text, without being overwhelmed with too many ads that do not apply to their identified demographic group.
The idea was not to stop companies from targeting ads, Boucher admitted. Instead, they wanted a bill that would state best practices for collecting data and preserving consumer privacy.
The issue of data privacy is not the only important item up for discussion on Boucher’s subcommittee agenda. There is also a bill requiring that the nation’s wireless companies would be required to succumb to inventory, in a move that would open the airwaves for wireless data capacity to handle the increase of Internet traffic on mobile networks.
A similar bill is also pending in the Senate which would modify the Universal Service Fund (USF), a federal subsidy paid to telecom companies to deliver phone services in rural areas.
Boucher and Lee Terry (R – Nebraska) are collaborating to draft legislation to earmark monies going to telephone service to go towards funding broadband services. Boucher expects that after five years, the bill would fund USF services throughout determined coverage areas. He states, “This fund is fully going to be used in order to accommodate broadband,” Boucher declared.
Finally, Boucher hoped a bill would be on the table to establish consumer protections for wireless consumer users, and he hoped it would preempt existing state laws on the topic. Chief among the concerns was the possible merger between Comcast and NBC Universal. There would also be new guidelines proposed for distributing grants and loans for broadband projects that had been allocated in last year’s stimulus bill.
Boucher hopes that in March, he would hold a hearing that would review the national broadband strategy the FCC plans to deliver to Congress in that month. Boucher agrees that the plan is ambitious, but he is confident when he says, “I think this agenda can be accomplished.”