New chairman of House Trade panel open to online privacy regulation

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"Whether that comes to legislation or not, we don't know," he said.


Terry said he will not start the year by pushing any particular privacy-protection measures.

"We're coming in with open minds," he explained.

Terry's subcommittee, which is part of the Energy and Commerce Committee, held numerous hearings last Congress on online privacy issues under Chairwoman Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.).

Terry took over the panel after Bono Mack lost her bid for reelection.

He said the subcommittee will use the previous hearings as a starting point, but noted that there are new members who did not participate in the previous hearings.

Some lawmakers, including Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), argue that Congress should enact laws to prevent online companies from exploiting people's personal information.

The Obama administration urged advertisers to allow users to opt out of online tracking, but industry-led talks stalled last year.

Business groups warn that privacy regulation could stifle online commerce—one of the few bright spots in the economy.

Terry said he will also consider whether to push legislation that would require companies that suffer a data breach to notify their customers.

He said his data breach bill will likely not be the same as the one offered by Bono Mack in the last Congress, but that data security is "part of our ultimate agenda."