Commerce Department Privacy Report Leaves Consumers In The Cold, Recommendations Favor Current Industry Practices, Consumer Watchdog Says

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WASHINGTON, DC — The Commerce Department’s “Green Paper” about online privacy is an industry friendly document that would perpetuate current failed practices that give companies, not consumers, control of consumer data, Consumer Watchdog said today.

The report calls for “voluntary, enforceable codes.” It proposes relying on a failed self-regulatory model when it's clear that real regulations with meaningful enforcement are necessary, Consumer Watchdog said.  

“The Commerce report starts off on the wrong foot with the title, ‘Commercial Data Privacy…’ We are talking about consumers’ data and their right to privacy, not about a business commodity,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Advocate with the nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group. “This is an early Christmas gift to the data collection industry.”

"There is a fundamental conflict of interest in putting the administration's Privacy Policy Office in the Commerce Department. The department's job is to promote business.  Protecting consumers is simply not on its agenda,” said Simpson.

Consumer Watchdog said that even though the Commerce Department’s proposals are inadequate to protect consumers, the report will play an important role in prompting necessary debate about privacy policies.

On Dec. 1, the Federal Trade Commission issued its own online privacy report, which noted that industry self-regulation has failed to protect consumer privacy.

Consumer Watchdog has been working to protect consumers’ online privacy rights and educate them about the issues through its Inside Google Project. The goal has been to convince Google of the social and economic importance of giving consumers control over their online lives. By persuading Google, the Internet’s leading company, to adopt adequate guarantees, its policies could become the gold standard for privacy for the industry, potentially improving the performance of the entire online sector.

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Consumer Watchdog, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, CA. Consumer Watchdog’s website is Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website:

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