CNN reports that on April 12, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and John Kerry (D-MA) introduced legislation that would create a “Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights” in the United States. Link to Text of the Bill.

The crux of the legislation forces internet companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and others to inform users about the information they are collecting and their motivations. When dealing with sensitive personally identifiable information, companies would be required to to create an “opt-in” system, meaning that users would click something to consent for data collection to begin. For less sensitive data, companies would be required to provide a “robust, clear, and conspicuous” mechanism for “opt-out” consent. Link to Full News Article.

The bill would likely have a tremendous impact on market research firms that use information about where consumers go on the internet to create behavioral models for more effective direct marketing.

Responses to the bill were mixed. Some of the larger technology companies like Google, Microsoft, and Intel support the bill. The Direct Marketing Association, which represents a number of business and non-profit organizations that use internet information for behavioral marketing, argued that there is no evidence of consumer harm caused by information collection and that the bill could undercut the “information economy”. Link. The Center for Digital Democracy, on the other hand, argued that the bill should be strengthened to create a formal “Do Not Track” database similar to the “Do Not Call” database for telemarketers. Link