NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

E-Commerce Firms May Relax Opposition To Privacy Standards

January 6, 2000

Companies engaged in e-commerce have long opposed federal standards to protect consumers' privacy -- preferring "self-regulation" by the industry. But insiders are beginning to reconsider their stance, according to reports, and may eventually opt for federal involvement.

  • Experts say that multiplying reports of surreptitious collection of consumer data by Internet marketers and questionable distribution of personal data by other companies are making privacy an issue of increasing public concern.
  • Lawmakers from both parties are calling for safeguards -- such as requiring companies to disclose how they collect and use personal information, and to seek consumers' permission before they resell the data.
  • In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll last fall, respondents ranked loss of personal privacy at the top of a list of eight concerns -- cited by 29 percent.
  • Politicians in California, Colorado and New York are mulling possible privacy legislation -- including tough new limits on unsolicited calls and e-mails, as well as restrictions on "information brokers" who collect and sell personal data such as addresses and Social Security numbers.

Source: Glenn R. Simpson, "E-Commerce Firms Start to Rethink Opposition to Privacy Regulation as Abuses, Anger Rise," Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2000.


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