Stearns introduces online privacy bill

“Using my privacy legislation from the 109th Congress as a base, I took the comments submitted to [then-]Chairman [Rick] Boucher [D-Va.] and worked with stakeholders on developing this bill," Stearns added. 

"The introduction of this bill is not the end of the process. I will continue to work to improve the language to ensure that regulatory distinctions are not being made on like services and that privacy is administered by a single agency, across the entire Internet economy."

Like the Senate bill, Stearns's bill doesn't include the creation of a Do Not Track list similar to the Do Not Call list that some consumer advocates have pressed for. It includes a FTC-approved five-year self-regulatory program that could serve a similar role to the Kerry-McCain bill's Safe Harbor certification program.

“We applaud the efforts of Reps. Stearns and Matheson for adding their voices to the continued discussion about online privacy with the Consumer Privacy Protection Act of 2011," said National Cable and Telecommunications Association vice president James Assey. "We particularly recognize the effort in this legislation to promote a level playing field with respect to privacy regulation.”

Unlike the Senate bill, the Stearns bill doesn't include opt-in requirements for sensitive personal information such as health or financial records. Stearns also thanked Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) for supporting the bill and said he plans to work closely with fellow Energy and Commerce member Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) to pass online privacy legislation.