CCIA Objects to Online Personal Privacy Act

April 18, 2002

Washington, DC – The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) announced its opposition to new privacy legislation introduced by Senator Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) today. The bill is Sen. Hollings’ latest version of various privacy proposals he has put forward in recent years.

“We certainly appreciate Senator Hollings’ efforts to ameliorate the harm this legislation would cause our industry,” CCIA President and CEO Ed Black said. “We also value his obvious concern over the privacy rights of Americans, which our members go to great lengths to protect. However, this legislation continues to advocate unworkable, unwise, and extremely onerous policies that would significantly transform the Internet and e-commerce as we know it. We also object to the discriminatory nature of the legislation, in that it subjects Internet companies and websites to harsher treatment than offline collectors of information.”

Included in the latest iteration of Hollings’ bill are provisions that subject Internet companies and service providers to sweeping liability for class action lawsuits for failing to adhere to the strict requirements of the legislation. It establishes a very broad definition of “sensitive” (and thus heavily regulated) information. The bill construes information contained in the passive storage of e-mails, chat room discussions, and instant messages as the “collection” of information for privacy purposes. It also mandates an expansive role for the Federal Trade Commission to create a new regulatory regime under the bill.

“While we have yet to see any compelling basis for new restrictions on the way e-commerce companies interact with their customers, this legislation would create problems where none now exist,” Black continued. “If this bill were enacted, we would see a proliferation of litigation, extremely burdensome website access requirements and sign-ons, and an end to much of the free information and services that have made the Internet the phenomenon it has been the last few years.

“CCIA is eager to help create an Internet that is more safe, more secure, and more user-friendly for consumers,” said Black, “and we know that Senator Hollings shares these objectives. We look forward to working with the Senator and his staff to promote these goals.”

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