In a conference call with reporters, Secretary of Commerce John Bryson said his department would be working with members of Congress to codify seven basic principles through legislation.
"It will protect consumers' personal data, provide businesses with better guidance . . . and ensure that the internet remains a strong platform," Mr. Bryson said.
In the meantime, he said the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will work with consumer-advocacy groups and other stakeholders to enlist online companies to "voluntarily choose to adopt these principles."
Mr. Bryson outlined these seven basic principles:
- Individual consumer control over what types of data is collected
- Transparency regarding how data is used
- Respect by companies for the context in which data is provided
- Secure handling of data
- The ability for consumers to see and ensure the accuracy of data
- Reasonable limits on the amount of data that companies try to collect and retain
- Accountability from companies that collect consumer data
The Digital Advertising Alliance, a coalition of digital-advertising trade associations, also announced that it is supporting the Federal Trade Commission's push for a web-wide do-not-track option on web browsers -- however difficult the technological implementation may prove to be.
Stu Ingis, counsel for the DAA, said his organization is working with operators of the world's largest browsers to create uniform opt-out functionality in browser headings so consumers can choose not to be tracked on any site they visit. Some new versions of browsers already include this functionality, but he said he hopes to see the language as well and the look-and-feel of these opt-out tabs standardized in the next nine months. He said there would be "narrow exceptions" for data that helps power functions such as fraud protection and ad-delivery reporting.
The Obama administration was expected to commend the DAA for its self-regulatory program at an event at the White House on Thursday.