CCIA Opposes Online Personal Privacy Act

May 15, 2002

Washington, DC – The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) today announced its strong opposition S. 2201, the Online Personal Privacy Act. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is expected to consider this legislation tomorrow.

“We believe that this legislation will cause great harm to the Internet and electronic commerce,” said Ed Black, President and CEO of CCIA. “We are also very disappointed that our industry has been singled out for disparate treatment and that once again, the Internet could face discriminatory treatment as a communications medium.”

S. 2201 would subject Internet companies and service providers to sweeping new 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.

“Our members recognize the need and desire for privacy by users of the Internet, and we respect the privacy of consumers,” Black said. “But we also we understand that if we do not provide adequate privacy and security to our customers, then we will not have these customers for very long.

“We are particularly concerned that, combined with the fragile economic state of many e-commerce companies, this bill could doom many Internet-based firms. While these companies struggle to generate revenue, the burden of responding to massive new litigation exposure coupled with the need to conform to complex regulations mandating access requirements and onerous sign-on schemes would have a debilitating effect. As a result, consumers will suffer as the free flow of services and information generated by the Internet is greatly curtailed.”

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