IT leaders team up to lobby Congress for privacy law

Twelve IT industry leaders, including Microsoft, Symantec and Oracle, have joined forces to form the Consumer Privacy Legislative (CPL) Forum, which will lobby for a detailed federal privacy law.

The goal of the forum is to "study the implications and explore support for comprehensive federal consumer privacy legislation," according to a group statement.

Witnesses scheduled to testify included Meg Whitman, eBay president and CEO, Scott Taylor, chief privacy officer at Hewlett-Packard, and Thomas Lenard, senior vice president of research at The Progress and Freedom Foundation.

"Increased use and access to information, often made possible through advances in technology, has greatly benefited society through the exchange of ideas, enhanced economic productivity and increased access to goods and services," said Peter Swire, professor of law at Ohio University in Athens, who also testified today. "Without the appropriate safeguards, however, access to information can pose potential harms to consumers resulting in a general lack of confidence that their information is safe. Unaddressed, a loss of trust has an adverse impact on economic growth and innovation."

The forum wants Congress to draft a "simplified, harmonized and flexible legal framework to allow for the free flow of information and commerce, while providing protection for consumers from increasing incidents of identity theft, fraud and intrusions of privacy," the statement said.

Specifically, the legislation would address the way businesses collect personal information, what they offer customers in terms of information use and disclosure, how they provide customers access to the data and what measures they have in place to protect private information.

"Because a national standard would pre-empt state laws, a robust framework is warranted," according to the statement.

CPL Forum participants also include Eastman Kodak, Eli Lilly and Co., Hewitt and Associates, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Oracle, Procter & Gamble and Sun Microsystems.

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