Lawmakers in Washington asked tech companies Tuesday whether they need to create legislation that would protect people's private information online. The Senate Commerce Committee took up the issue, asking representatives from Apple, AT&T, Facebook and Google if an online privacy bill is necessary.
Those companies have all dealt with recent privacy issues, ranging from sites gathering and storing data to sharing data with third-party sites. For some legislators, those events have been enough of an indicator that legislation should be drafted to safeguard Internet users.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who chairs the Communications Subcommittee, said he intends to draft an online privacy bill that might pass early next year, according to LATimes.com.
"As a matter of law, we need new baseline standards for privacy protection that ensure people's identity is treated with the respect it deserves," he said.
Not surprisingly, the companies opposed the idea of new legislation at the hearing, citing their openness about problems when they arise and referring to their current privacy measures.
On the House side of the U.S. Capitol, online privacy legislation has already been introduced, including one bill last week sponsored by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and earlier legislation by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.). Boucher's bill prohibits online advertisers from tracking sensitive information without users' permission. Rush's Bill, on the other hand, would give the Federal Trade Commission the authority to create online privacy regulations, according to the Washington Post.