• Great articles on other sites
  • RSS Great articles on other sites

  • International - Written by on Friday, February 24, 2012 11:18 - 0 Comments

    Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL back US ‘consumer privacy bill of rights’

    Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL back US ‘consumer privacy bill of rights'” was written by Charles Arthur and agencies, for theguardian.com on Thursday 23rd February 2012 18.17 UTC

    Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL say they will sign up to a "consumer privacy bill of rights", announced on Thursday by the Obama administration in a move that would bring US law closer to European data protection principles.

    The idea would bring stronger privacy protections for consumers, as mobile gadgets, internet services and other tools get better at tracking what you do and where you go.

    Administration officials outlined their proposal on Thursday and urged technology companies, consumer groups and others to jointly craft new protections. Such guidelines would initially be voluntary for companies, but those that agree to abide by them could be subject to sanctions for any violations.

    Separately, the US Federal Trade Commission – which acts as a consumer watchdog – recommended the creation of a "Do Not Track" tool to let consumers curb advertisers from studying their online activity to target ads. Google was among those which said it would incorporate it into its browser, Chrome.

    In announcing support for the Obama administration’s privacy safeguards, the companies – responsible for delivering nearly 90% of targeted advertisements – also committed to adopting a technology called "Do Not Track" which will start being built into web browsers later this year.

    "As the internet evolves, consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy," Obama said in a statement. "That’s why an online privacy bill of rights is so important. For businesses to succeed online, consumers must feel secure."

    The effort comes as companies have found more sophisticated ways to collect and combine data on your interests and habits. Beginning next week, for instance, Google will start merging data it collects from email, video, social-networking and other services when you’re signed in with a Google account. In response, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) put up a page on its website explaining how to remove your search history from Google’s database.

    The growing use of smartphones and tablet computers has added another dimension to the tracking. Location information can give service providers insights into where you spend your time and, if you have friends who use the same services, whom you tend to hang out with in person. The discovery that Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and then devices using Google’s Android, kept a database of the phone’s location history, caused an outcry last year; Apple updated its software to wipe the database, while Google strengthened protection around it.

    Data collection can help companies improve and personalise services. It can also help advertisers fine-tune messages and reach the people most likely to buy their products and services often without consumers even realising – or consenting to – it.

    That lack of informed consent is why the administration is seeking more data protections for US consumers, in the report issued on Thursday.

    How strong the protections will be ultimately depends on what rules parties can reach consensus on. The US administration’s approach implies of self-regulation, because legislation to enable traditional regulation would take time.

    The move carries echoes of European data protection laws, which enshrine individuals’ rights about privacy and put limits on how personal data can be processed. But those have been developing since the 1980s, whereas the US has always taken a more laissez-faire approach.

    The FTC’s move follows the revelation that software companies producing games and other mobile applications often aren’t telling parents what personal information is being collected from children, nor how companies are using it. Depending on how the guidelines are crafted, companies could be required to more prominently disclose when they collect such things as location, call logs and lists of friends not just from other children, but everyone.

    The report is not intended to replace other efforts at offering privacy protections.

    Leading companies in mobile computing agreed on Wednesday to require that mobile applications seeking to collect personal information forewarn users before their services are installed. The guidelines came as part of an agreement with California’s attorney general.

    The US commerce secretary, John Bryson, said in a briefing with reporters that the administration’s proposal on privacy not only protects consumers but also gives businesses better guidance on how to meet consumer expectations.

    The proposal expands on widely accepted Fair Information Practice Principles crafted in the 1970s, before internet use had expanded beyond early researchers. The existing guidelines say that consumers should be informed about any data collection and given the option to refuse. They should also be allowed to review and correct data about themselves. The principles also have provisions for security and enforcement.

    Applying the principles to the internet era, the administration said data collected in one context should not be used for another, while companies should specify any plans for deleting data or sharing information with outside parties. Companies also need to be mindful of the age and sophistication of consumers. Disclosures need to be presented when and where they are most useful for consumers.

    Those closely mirror the principles used in Europe, and could ease the transit of data between the two entities; presently the less strict data protection laws in the US mean that data from Europe which will be processed by US companies are subject to a "safe harbour" agreement, in which the US firm promises to act as though it were doing the processing under European law.

    The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration plans to convene companies, privacy advocates, regulators and other parties in the common months to craft detailed guidelines that reflect those principles. Enforcement would be left to the FTC under existing laws.

    The codes of conduct would be specific to particular types of companies. One might cover social networks, for instance, while another might deal with services on mobile gadgets. A company that offers social-networking features on phones might adopt both. New ones could emerge as technology evolves.

    Although officials expect many companies will agree to the new codes, allowing them to use that commitment in marketing materials, the report also called on Congress to pass new laws to require remaining companies to adopt such guidelines. Until then, enforcement would be limited to companies that say they would abide by the codes but fail to do so.

    Legislation also would be needed for the FTC to give protections to businesses that follow a checklist of good practices. Known as "safe harbor", such protections would exempt companies from sanctions if they inadvertently break a code.

    The report comes 14 months after the Commerce Department first proposed a privacy bill of rights. The issue was later elevated to the White House and won its endorsement with the release of Thursday’s report.

    The administration dropped a proposal in the original report to create a federal privacy office within the Commerce Department. Instead, the task of convening parties to craft guidelines is left to the existing NTIA.

    guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

    Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

    submit to reddit

    Leave a Comment


  • Get our 'Best of the Week' newsletter on Fridays

    Just the most important stories, one email a week.

    Email address:

    Follow us on social media

    Use your RSS reader to subscribe to our articles feed or to our comments feed.

  • Most Popular Content

  • Enterprise IT stories

    • Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp facepalm2

      If you have even a skin deep awareness of the structure of Australia’s superannuation industry, you’ll be aware that much of the underlying infrastructure used by many of the nation’s major funds is provided by a centralised group, Superpartners. One of the group’s main projects in recent years has been to dramatically update and modernise its IT platform — its version of a core banking platform overhaul. Unfortunately, the $250 million project has not precisely been going well.

    • Qld’s Grant joins analyst firm IBRS peter-grant

      This week it emerged that Peter Grant, the two-time former Queensland Whole of Government CIO (pictured), has joined well-regarded analyst firm Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS). We’ve long had a high regard for IBRS, and so it’s fantastic to see such an experienced executive join its ranks.

    • Westpac dumps desk phones for Samsung Android mobiles samsung-galaxy-ace-3

      The era of troublesome desk phones tied to physical locations is gradually coming to an end in many workplaces, with mobile phones becoming increasingly popular as organisations’ main method of voice telecommunications. But some groups are more advanced than others when it comes to adoption of the trend. One of those is Westpac.

    • Ministers’ cloud approval lasted just a year reverse

      Remember how twelve months ago, the Federal Government released a new cloud computing security and privacy directive which required departments and agencies to explicitly acquire the approval of the Attorney-General and the relevant portfolio minister before government data containing private information could be stored in offshore facilities? Remember how the policy was strongly criticised by Microsoft, Government CIOs and Delimiter? Well, it looks like the policy is about to be reversed.

    • WA Govt can’t fund school IT upgrades oops key

      In news from The Department of Disturbing Facts, iTNews revealed late last week that Western Australia’s Department of Education has run out of money halfway through the deployment of new fundamental IT infrastructure to the state’s schools.

    • Turnbull outlines Govt ICT vision turnbull-5

      Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has published an extensive article arguing that the Federal Government needed to do a better job of connecting with Australians via digital channels and that public sector IT projects needn’t cost the huge amounts that some have in the past.

    • NZ Govt pushes hard into cloud zealand

      New Zealand’s national Government announced a whole of government contract this morning for what it terms ‘Office Productivity as a Service’ services. This includes email and calendaring services, as well as file-sharing, mobility, instant messaging and collaboration services. The contract complements two existing contracts — Desktop as a Service and Enterprise Content Management as a Service.

    • CommBank reveals Harte’s replacement whiteing

      The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has promoted an internal executive who joined the bank in September after a lengthy career at petroleum giant VP and IT services group Accenture to replace its outgoing chief information officer Michael Harte, who announced in early May that he would leave the bank.

    • Jeff Smith quits Suncorp for IBM jeffsmith4

      Second-tier Australian bank and financial services group Suncorp today announced that its long-serving top technology executive Jeff Smith would leave to take up a senior role with IBM in the United States, in an announcement which marks the end of an era for the nation’s banking IT sector.

    • Small business missing the mobile, social, cloud revolution iphone-stock

      Most companies that live and breathe the online revolution are not tech startups, but smart smaller firms that use online tools to run their core business better: to cut costs, reach customers and suppliers, innovate and get more control. Many others, however, are falling behind, according to a new Grattan Institute discussion paper.

  • Blog, Enterprise IT - Jul 5, 2014 13:53 - 0 Comments

    Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp

    More In Enterprise IT

    Blog, Telecommunications - Jul 5, 2014 12:12 - 0 Comments

    What should the ACCC’s role be in guiding infrastructure spending?

    More In Telecommunications

    Analysis, Industry, Internet - Jun 23, 2014 10:33 - 0 Comments

    ‘Google Schmoogle’ – how Yellow Pages got it so wrong

    More In Industry

    Blog, Digital Rights - Jun 30, 2014 22:24 - 0 Comments

    Will Netflix launch in Australia, or not?

    More In Digital Rights