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New privacy bill makes your location, sexual orientation "sensitive info"

New privacy bill makes your location, sexual orientation "sensitive info"

Major Internet privacy legislation was unveiled today (PDF) by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL). Under the bill, companies would be forbidden from using your cell phone's geolocation information without your consent, and the same goes for information on your race, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation. For most other information, a simple opt-out will keep that data—even data already collected—from being used.

Boucher chairs the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, and he has dealt with Internet issues for years (he was a driving force behind the doomed attempt to patch the worst parts of the DMCA, as well); Stearns is the ranking member on the committee. The two today released a "discussion draft" of their new privacy legislation in order to gauge Congressional and public opinion on its ideas.

Covered and sensitive

The bill isn't particularly long, and compared to laws in other countries, it's not particularly strict. But it does provide a decent privacy baseline in the US, providing limited protection for "covered information" and much tougher protection for "sensitive information."

The bill makes a key distinction between the two kinds of data: covered information collection is 'opt-out,' while sensitive information collection would become 'opt-in' only.Collapse )
Tags: law, privacy
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