The United States of America seems to have moved one step closer to developing a legally binding set of privacy regulations for internet firms. State attorneys in 36 states recently signed a letter of concern regarding Google’s proposed plan to share users’ personal information across its range of products, and in a statement President Obama outlined a “consumer privacy bill of rights”.
It is argued by the White House that internet users should have to the right to limit the circumstances in which information is collected, should be allowed to correct any erroneous information, and also that users should have the right to transparency in privacy policies.
Google and Facebook are two companies who have signed on to collaborate on the guidelines based on the “bill of rights”, which will be enforceable by the US Federal Trade Commission. Speaking on the matter, President Obama said “American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online… As the internet evolves, consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy.”
However, skeptics argue that the involvment of the main offenders will likely just create an environment full of loopholes. Speaking to the New York Times, John Simpson, who works on privacy issues for Consumer Watchdog said “The real question is how much influence companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook will have in their inevitable attempt to water down the rules that are implemented and render them essentially meaningless.”