Can Obama's New Consumer Privacy Bill Keep Your Data Safe?

Illustration for article titled Can Obama's New Consumer Privacy Bill Keep Your Data Safe?

Today, the Obama administration is to unveil a new Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, which it hopes to roll out in order to protect people's privacy online. The question is, can it work?


The bill sets out to give users more control: to police what data is collected, how it's used and shared, even how it's stored. More than that, though, it should help users avoid having information collected in one context being used in another, as well as allowing them to find out who is accountable for the misuse of the data.

According to CNET, "the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration will work with Internet companies and consumer advocates to come up with codes of conduct that comply with the new bill of rights."

As part of a statement issued alongside the bill, the administration is keen to point out that it is mindful of the problems involved with introducing such policy. "The president's privacy framework assures that as new Internet services develop privacy rules will keep up with, and not hamper, the pace of innovation," it reads.

It's the culmination of two years of work, in consultation with industry, privacy advocates, academics and enforcement agencies, and will be officially launched an noon ET today. It all sounds wonderful.

But there is one huge, glaring omission: there is no plan for implementation or enforcement. Plenty of principles, lots of theories, and a great many sentiments, but no cold, hard suggestions of how it can be made to work.

So, while in theory it sounds like it could change our digital lives, it is still very much based in theory. Can it help keep your data safe? Maybe, just not any time soon.


The specific provisions listed in the bill can be found below. [CNET; Image: Photo remixed from Anton Prado/Shutterstock]

White House Privacy Papers 2-23Click to view




Protect from who? From him? I believe in the regulation by the free market. If you don't trust a company, then don't use their services.

If you blinded give all your data just because there is a law to protect you, you are a fool.

It will make more damage than good.