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Government Report Calls For Comprehensive Privacy Law

A new report on consumer privacy from the Government Accountability Office concludes that there ought to be a comprehensive federal law governing the collection, use and sale of personal information by companies since there currently is none. The just-released report on “information resellers” was requested in June 2011 by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who last year launched an investigation into the privacy practices of data brokers. Earlier this year, Rockefeller, chairman of the commerce committee, reintroduced his Do Not Track Act. The report focuses primarily on the privacy issues related to consumer information used for marketing. Between August and September, the GAO reviewed the current laws, regulations and enforcement actions and talked to representatives from government, consumer and privacy groups, trade associations and data broker companies. “Congress should consider strengthening the current consumer privacy framework to reflect the effects of changes in technology and the marketplace, particularly in relation to consumer data used for marketing purposes,” the report said. Specifically, the GAO recommended lawmakers consider giving consumers more information about what information is held about them, who holds it, and the ability to access, correct and control that information. A more comprehensive privacy law should also address privacy controls for new technologies, including online tracking and mobile.

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