Thursday, March 08, 2007

Privacy law in the US?

I came across a press release whereby Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates urges Congress to pass legislation on privacy:

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has added to his legislative wish list, renewing his push for Congress to pass an "all-inclusive" consumer privacy and security law by year's end.

In his keynote speech at a dinner here Wednesday hosted by the advocacy group Center for Democracy and Technology, Gates shifted his focus away from the calls for education and immigration changes that dominated his appearance at a morning Senate hearing. There's a critical need for federal privacy rules that require transparency about data collection practices, grant users access to their own data and dictate what companies must do if a breach occurs, Gates told an audience of about 900 people in a cavernous ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel here. Microsoft isn't alone in requesting federal privacy legislation. The Windows maker is allied with a number of tech titans, including eBay, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Intel and Oracle, that have begun lobbying Congress to override what they deem a patchwork of disparate state laws.

Privacy in the US certainly seems to be patchy, but whereas the European Data Protection Framework is much stricter in protecting the privacy of individuals (Art. 1 states fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals), this cannot be said of the US. Whether the legislation will be framed along the lines of the European Data Protection Directive is not clear, but for anyone interested in the differences between the US/Europe protection of privacy, see:

  • Kang and Buchner. Privacy in Atlantis, Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 18, No. 1, Fall 2004.
  • Reidenberg, R. and P. Schwartz. Data privacy Law (Michie, 1996).

No comments: