"We think it's better that companies like Microsoft and others in this
industry provide those tools as opposed to dealing with burdensome legislation,"
53 Bills Introduced in 21 States
State legislatures are just beginning to convene, but 14 bills related to online
identity theft, fraud and children's issues have already been introduced in
Arizona, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Missouri, according to research sponsored
by The Internet Alliance, a Washington-based trade group.
The Alliance said 53 bills dealing with financial privacy have been introduced
in 21 states. And the list is expected to grow.
In Congress, Reps. Chris Cannon (R-Utah) and Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) this
week introduced a privacy bill that would set some baseline data protection
standards for firms doing business online. Their bill is modeled after one introduced
in the Senate last year and is likely to be proposed again in the new congressional
That measure, which is expected to be reintroduced by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
and John Kerry (D-Mass.), would give Internet users the ability to limit the
use and disclosure of personal information through an "opt-out" mechanism.
It would also require companies to post notices about the kind of data they
collect and how that information is used.
The federal bills, however, are being criticized by privacy advocates for failing
to allow access to information and for relying on an opt-out instead of an opt-in
But Jeff Hartley, a spokesman for Cannon, said the bill will likely be changed.
"We want all sides at the table in this," said Hartley, adding that
all aspects of the proposal are open for discussion.