NetChoice slams consumer data privacy measures

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NetChoice has called out website privacy and taxation proposals before Congress, saying they would damage online advertising and publishing. The e-commerce trade organization released its fourth Internet Advocates' Watchlist for Ugly Laws (iAWFUL) report, a lineup of what it considers the 10 worst legislative and regulatory proposals impacting online content, on September 9.

A federal privacy proposal from Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and a discussion draft from Reps. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) shared the top spot on the list. NetChoice says they would add excessive regulation in how companies gather data from consumers.

“We're seeing consumers who are rightly concerned about their personal information and privacy in a number of areas, and companies respond to that by trying to make their information more secure — but we're seeing legislation thrust into the middle of this ongoing dialogue between consumers and companies,” said Braden Cox, policy counsel for NetChoice.

If passed, both proposals would require additional notices being sent to consumers to inform them their data is being used, as well as additional options for consumers to opt out of data collection. Cox said that instead of restricting the misuse of personal data, the measures would regulate the collection of data regardless of how it will be used, or how small the website gathering it is.

Second on the list is the Streamlined Sales Tax, which NetChoice criticized as a federal effort to expand Internet taxation. It moved up from the No. 4 spot it held in February.

NetChoice created the iAWFUL list in 2009 to encourage awareness and activism from Internet users. It regularly updates it depending on how serious the proposed legislation is, and how likely it is to pass.

The group claimed victories earlier this year when a bill giving the Federal Trade Commission stronger rule-making authority was removed from financial reform legislation, and a Maine law restricting online marketing to teenagers was repealed.

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