Senate Commerce Committee Reports Online Privacy Bill; Future of Legislation in Question
The Senate Commerce Committee last Friday reported an online privacy bill (S 2201) that would protect personal information, including medical records, to the full Senate for consideration, the Wall Street Journal reports. The committee passed the bill last Thursday, but a procedural move by Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who opposes the bill, prevented the committee from moving the bill to the Senate floor until the next day (Wall Street Journal, 5/20). The bill, the Online Personal Privacy Act, sponsored by Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), would require Web sites and Internet service providers to disclose their information collection practices and inform users of changes and would allow users to review information collected about them. In addition, the bill would allow users to sue Web sites for privacy violations at $5,000 per violation in cases where they can prove damages (California Healthline, 5/17). The bill also includes a provision by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) that requires the Federal Trade Commission to develop privacy rules to govern "offline businesses" within six months of the bill's enactment. Although the bill moves to the Senate floor, "it isn't clear when the chamber might act," the Journal reports. Lawmakers have introduced a "far more limited" version of the bill in the House (Wall Street Journal, 5/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.