Congress is debating the role of Internet privacy, even as the TV industry prepares to introduce the type of targeted/addressable advertising similar to that now being conducted on the Internet.
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), chair of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, held hearings yesterday on the subject of marketing companies collecting and using consumers’ personal information. He has vowed to introduce legislation on the subject this year.
Boucher is on record being in favor of targeted advertising, provided that privacy concerns are adequately addressed.
Consumer groups, which for some time have been objecting to behavioral modeling techniques specifically and to privacy violations in general, want data collection to be an opt-in process. Corporate interests, here represented by Google, Yahoo and Facebook, are pushing for opt-out.
Google's deputy general counsel Nicole Wong said in her written testimony that the company supports “a comprehensive federal privacy law,” as opposed to a law that would regulate only online behavioral targeting, according to MediaPost (story here).
There is no clear congressional consensus yet.
On one side, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying: “I think it's a big deal if someone tracks where you go and what you look at without your personal approval. We wouldn't like that in the non-Internet world, and I personally don't like it in the Internet world” (story here; registration required).
On the other side, several lawmakers, mostly Republicans, are already objecting on general anti-regulatory principle.