The White House proposed on Thursday a "privacy bill of rights" that would give consumers more control over their data but relies heavily for now on voluntary commitments by Internet companies like Google Inc and Facebook。
The plan comes amid growing consumer concern about their lack of control over the collection and trade in vast amounts of detailed information about their online activities and real-life identities。
As part of the announcement, an online advertising coalition associated with Google Inc, Yahoo Inc and Microsoft Corp said its members agreed to placing "Do Not Track" technology in Web browsers, something the Federal Trade Commission has been advocating since 2010.
But privacy advocates said that commitment was of limited scope and consumers should avoid thinking their Internet activity would be totally shielded。
Various federal agencies, including the FTC and Department of Commerce, have recommended similar privacy rights in the past, but broad legislation has failed to get traction. Privacy laws have been narrowly tailored toward protecting children, or categories of data such as credit reports and health records。
"The hope would be that this is a measure that you get all the large advertisers to agree to. Then it gets to be in their interest to get it enforced on the others through legislation," said Christopher Calabrese, lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union。
A leading Republican on the issue in the GOP-controlled House, Representative Mary Bono Mack, gave tepid support, saying she would work with the administration but that "any rush-to-judgment could have a chilling effect on our economy and potentially damage, if not cripple, online innovation."
The White House proposed seven basic protections that consumers should expect from companies。
Consumers should have control over the kind of data companies collect, companies must be transparent about data usage plans and respect the context in which it is provided and disclosed. Companies would have to ensure secure and responsible handling of the data and be accountable for strong privacy measures。