Tech, privacy advocates wary of Obama privacy bill

Major tech companies and privacy advocates alike are taking issue with the White House’s new comprehensive online privacy bill.

While Silicon Valley is worried that the draft legislation unveiled on Friday could be too tough on their practices, privacy groups say that it doesn’t go nearly far enough to bring the kind of privacy certainty that people need.

That could spell trouble for the plan as it makes its way from the administration up to Capitol Hill.

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The new bill, which intends to limit how companies collect and share people’s data, “could hurt American innovation and choke off potentially useful services and products,” warned the head of the Consumer Electronics Association, a major trade group that represents 2,000 companies.  

The head of the Internet Association, a K Street group of online companies such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo, raised concerns that the “wide-ranging” draft bill “casts a needlessly imprecise net” that could cut off innovation.

Meanwhile, Center for Democracy and Technology consumer privacy director Justin Brookman said that it had “too many loopholes” and wouldn't do enough to crack down on bad actors.

The draft bill unveiled by the White House on Friday would require companies to clearly explain to users what will happen with their data, make sure that information is protected and allow people to access their records and delete it when their cancel their accounts. The proposal comes as part of a broader administration push to shore up digital protections amid rising concerns about hackers, identity theft and the growing web of connected devices on the "Internet of things."

Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenate Democrats introduce bill to block Trump's refugee ban FCC votes to limit program funding internet access for low-income communities Two GOP senators oppose Trump’s EPA chemical safety nominee MORE (D-Mass.), one of the most vocal privacy advocates in Congress, said that the bill “falls far short” of the strict measures needed to protect people’s privacy.

In particular, he raised alarms that the plan could undermine strong state rules and give too much power to companies.

“Instead of codes of conduct developed by industries that have historically been opposed to strong privacy measures, we need uniform and legally-enforceable rules that companies must abide by and consumers can rely upon,” he said.

Markey will introduce his own legislation next week that will give more power to consumers to stop companies from using their data, he said.

Not everyone was down on the bill, however.

Microsoft’s chief privacy officer, Brendon Lynch, said in a blog post that it was “a good place to start the conversation.”