NEWS29 October 2010

White House joins internet privacy debate

Government North America

US— The debate over internet privacy has gone right to the top of government – the White House’s National Science and Technology Council has formed a subcommittee with the goal of fostering consensus in legislative, regulatory and international internet policy realms.

Representatives of more than a dozen government departments and agencies have been picked to sit on the subcommittee, which has said it will “work closely with private stakeholders to identify internet policy principles that promote innovation and economic expansion, while also protecting the rule of law and individual privacy”.

The move comes amid lawsuits over internet tracking and app data leaks, and with privacy legislation being proposed in the House and Senate which seeks to give more control to consumers over what data is collected by internet businesses.

Privacy advocates are supportive of legislative moves, but the advertising industry is hoping to craft a self-regulatory scheme that will answer people’s concerns about how their data is used and how they can opt-out of things like behavioural targeting systems.