Microsoft, allies try to head off privacy protection, prefer voluntary guidelines

Voluntary guidelines, self regulation work better than real rules, study, consortium claim


Under the auspices the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), a vendor consortium dedicated to creating the appearance that its members are concerned about user privacy, Edelman and Microsoft are trying to head off efforts from the White House to create privacy rules vendors can't ignore when they choose.

This morning the White House formally announced the "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights," a blueprint designed to serve as a starting point for the development of privacy regulations whose development will be led by the Commerce Department and enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.

The case for laws protecting consumer privacy

"American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online," the announcement quoted President Obama as saying. "For businesses to succeed online, consumers must feel secure. By following this blueprint, companies, consumer advocates and policymakers can help protect consumers and ensure the Internet remains a platform for innovation and economic growth."

In addition to the Edelman survey and its membership in the OTA, Microsoft is one of the companies cited by the White House as having agreed to comply with the Do Not Track initiative announced by the White House last year, along with Google, Yahoo and AOL.

Together the four make up 90 percent of the market for behavioral online advertising – the type most dependent on behavioral profiles of individual consumers, according to the White House.

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