Bill would protect privacy on the web

Marietta Times

Although they've been assured by their Internet service provider that their connection is safe, Lisa and Donald Godshall have recently been discussing whether or not they want to set up access to their bank accounts online.

"I just got online and I haven't set up any of those accounts yet," said Lisa Godshall, 51, of Marietta.

Internet privacy and security is a concern of many and now will be considered by U.S. legislators.

President Barack Obama's administration is supporting legislation to protect the personal data of Internet users, and some local residents, including Godshall, say they're in favor of it because they sometimes have fears about where their personal information might end up and how it might be used.

The "privacy bill of rights" would require that Internet businesses create a set of practices to protect consumer data. The bill of rights would include legally enforceable standards for the collection and sale of personal data gathered from Internet use. A new government office would also be established to oversee data privacy protections.

Marietta resident Mike Cullums, 57, said he's not too keen on the idea of the government getting involved with Internet regulation.

"I'm a little leery of another government agency (being established) - I'm not sure we need that," he said. "I'd want to know the government themselves (isn't) securing the information."

Jessica Towhey, spokeswoman for Sixth District U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, said he doesn't want legislation regarding Internet privacy to be a burden.

"Congressman Johnson would certainly favor measures to protect the confidential data of Americans who are online, but wants to be sure that any measures taken do not create unnecessary regulatory burdens," she said.

The Federal Trade Commission wants to establish a "Do Not Track" option, which would allow people to tell companies that they do not want information gathered about them.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz recently told the Senate Commerce Committee that his agency is already confronting companies that are deceptive about their privacy policies. Microsoft has supported privacy legislation and recently introduced a version of Internet Explorer that has a tracking protection tool which lets users stop Web sites from collecting information on them.

Advertisers and data aggregators say their practices are necessary to give Internet users more relevant advertising.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is in favor of the legislation, according to his spokeswoman.

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