What are John Kerry and John McCain doing about your privacy?

Molly Wood Apr 13, 2011
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What are John Kerry and John McCain doing about your privacy?

Molly Wood Apr 13, 2011
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We’ve been hearing for months that a Kerry-McCain bill was in the works, but details were a bit vague on what the actual bill would say.

It calls for companies to establish policies on how to protect consumer data that has already been collected. Companies would also be required to clearly explain how they collect and use information from consumers and they would have to offer an opt-out choice for people who would rather not have their information shared.

Not included in the new legislation? A national Do Not Track registry, similar to the Do Not Call list but in online form. Kerry explained that he didn’t think such a provision was necessary because of the strength of the opt-out alternative for consumers. Kerry also left open the possibility that such a provision could be added when the bill goes through the legislative process.

We talk to Ryan Calo, who runs the Consumer Privacy Project at the Stanford Center for Internet & Society. He says that the proposed law doesn’t really change how a lot of companies already operate; it’s in line with commonly agreed-upon best practices of privacy. But it does add some specificity to those guidelines and an enforcement component to lend a little teeth. Calo says that if this law passes, it should also be more obvious when you’re being tracked online.

Also in this program, Stripespotter is an online database of zebra stripe patterns. It can get so embarrassing when you call a zebra by the wrong name. But now? Crisis averted. You’ll know it’s Kevin.

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