US publishes Consumer Bill of Rights promoting voluntary codes

The Obama administration has issued a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights with the aim of extending privacy protection to commercial sectors that are not subject to existing Federal data privacy laws. The Bill is based on Fair Information Practice Principles, and it would be implemented by voluntary codes of conduct. In the coming months, the Department of Commerce aims to work with stakeholders to develop enforceable codes of conduct.

“The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights provides general principles that afford companies discretion in how they implement them. This flexibility will help promote innovation. Flexibility will also encourage effective privacy protections by allowing companies, informed by input from consumers and other stakeholders, to address the privacy issues that are likely to be most important to their customers and users, rather than requiring companies to adhere to a single, rigid set of requirements”, the US administration says.

The Bill of Rights (not a law) would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. “Even if Congress does not pass legislation, the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights will serve as a template for privacy protections that increase consumer trust on the Internet and promote innovation,” the White House says.

The administration also states that a law would need to state companies’ obligations in a more detailed manner than described in the Bill. The Administration will work collaboratively with the Congress on statutory language.