Intel, Microsoft, eBay support Rush's privacy bill, while noting concerns

Intel, Microsoft and eBay wrote to House Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Rush (Ill.) on Monday in support of his privacy legislation while advocating for the removal of one of its provisions.

The companies said they "support the bill's overall framework" and commended it for striking "the appropriate balance by providing businesses with the opportunity to enter into a robust self-regulatory choice program."

They also said lawmakers should remove the provision allowing consumers to take legal action against companies. They said that would create "unnecessary litigation costs and uncertainty for businesses" without "a corresponding benefit to consumer privacy." 

They said they look forward to working on refining the bill and want legislation that "will provide consumers with robust protections."

Rush welcomed the support in a statement Thursday.

"I am glad that these companies view the legislation my staff and I worked so hard to produce as a major step in the right direction," he said.

He also gave a nod to the companies' needs within the debate.

"Despite their differing business models, eBay, Intel, Microsoft and other content providers must be free to execute business plans that will generate sufficient revenue in exchange for providing ‘free’ content and services," he said, adding that many consumers see online services as a "free lunch."

Rush's legislation would rein in how companies approach consumer data collected online. It would require companies to disclose more information about what they do with users' data, while directing the Federal Trade Commission to create standards for such disclosures. Among other requirements, it would also require companies to receive "opt-in" consent from consumers when the company wants to share the data with a third party.

House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (Va.) and ranking member Rep. Cliff Stearns (Fla.) also floated privacy legislation in the spring.