February 05, 2013, 4:47 PM — It has now been just about a year since the Obama administration put forth its online privacy blueprint. In spite of a title on the announcement that insisted "We Can't Wait," not much has happened since the blueprint was published. Meanwhile, things are heating up on the online privacy front in Europe, and the contrast between the United States and European viewpoints is and is not stark.
The Obama administration blueprint starts off with the clearly nonsensical statement that "The consumer data privacy framework in the United States is, in fact, strong." There is nothing that could remotely be called a "consumer data privacy framework" in the United States. Every company that collects information about you and me is free to do whatever it wants with that data, except for some narrow exceptions around medical records and quirky things like videotape rental records, and there is an attempt to dilute even that exception. There is nothing in the United States that says you, as the person some data is about, has any right to know that the data exists or what it will be used for (never mind having any say in how it can be used).
[ DATA PRIVACY DAY 2013: Microsoft releases privacy trends study ]
The broad picture that the Obama blueprint paints is not all that different from a surface reading of the EU rules. The Obama blueprint's six consumer rights (individual control, transparency, respect for context, access and accuracy, focused collection and accountability) sound quite like the EU's seven principles (notice, purpose, consent, security, disclosure, access and accountability).