As expected, this year is shaping up to be a busy year on privacy. As we noted in an earlier post, many Congressional members on both sides of the aisle are focusing on privacy issues. We still expect Senator Kerry to introduce comprehensive privacy legislation in the next few weeks and we understand Senator Pryor is working on legislation focused on children’s privacy before possibly turning back to a “do-not-track” bill. In the meantime, Senator Leahy, who has long engaged on privacy issues, has created a new Privacy and Technology Subcommittee to be chaired by Al Franken; Congresswoman Jackie Speier introduced her expected do-not-track legislation; Congressman Bobby Rush reintroduced his comprehensive privacy bill; and Congressman Cliff Stearns has discussed introducing the draft privacy legislation that he co-authored with Congressman Rick Boucher last year.
Gerry Waldron has previously written on this blog about some of the challenges that privacy legislation will face in the 112th Congress, but it is notable that so many members of Congress are focusing in on privacy issues this early in the 112th Congress. Congressional engagement on these issues makes clear that consumer privacy legislation will be a key issue for consumers and businesses that care about privacy to focus on this Congress. This is especially true in light of recent Federal Trade Commission and Department of Commerce privacy efforts. Neither agency has endorsed new legislation, but the Commerce Department is seeking comment on the question and the FTC has suggested that, if self-regulatory efforts fail, legislation may be necessary to implement Do Not Track.