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Obama Administration Urges Congress to Adopt 'Privacy Bill of Rights'

The Obama administration is pushing Congress to adopt a so-called "privacy bill of rights," in order to offer greater protection for Americans concerned about online data gathering and targeted advertising.

Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence E. Strickling is expected to propose the legislation today during a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee. A source familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal that the administration would support any bill that adheres to the recommendations outlined in a December report from the Commerce Department.

That report suggested that companies ask consumers for permission to use their personal data for any purpose other than the one for which it was originally collected. The White House could also call for a law that allows users to access their personal data online, the source explained, adding that the administration would look to expand the FTC's authority over the matter.

Thus far, many companies have cooperated with the government's recommendations. After the FTC called for a 'do not track list' in December, both Google and Mozilla announced that they are implementing similar options in their Web browsers. A group of 30 online advertising firms is even calling for the industry to adopt a single 'do not track' tool as a simple solution to the brewing tension between marketers and privacy advocates.

Today, however, marks the first time that the White House has openly called for a privacy bill of rights. The Journal's source confirmed that, for now, the administration would simply "begin a process of working with Congress on defining" the specific protections to include in the bill.

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