Microsoft Supports Kerry-McCain Privacy Bill

Posted by Frank Torres
Director, Consumer Affairs, Microsoft

Microsoft offers its support for new bipartisan legislation introduced today by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) that aims to give consumers more control over their personal information. We look forward to working with the sponsors of the bill, the Senate Commerce Committee, and all interested stakeholders as the bill winds its way through the legislative process.

Here is some of what’s in the bill:

• Most importantly, the Kerry-McCain bill protects consumer privacy. The bill tracks the core fair information principles which set the “baseline” privacy protections for consumers – including transparency, choice and security.

• To allow for continued innovation, the bill recognizes allowable uses of data, such as what is necessary to operate the business, for fraud prevention and to process a transaction.

• The bill does not mandate any specific technology (what is often referred to as “technology neutral”), allowing for flexibility to adapt to changes in technology.

• The bill strikes the appropriate balance by creating sound consumer privacy protections while providing businesses with the opportunity to enter into a robust self-regulatory program.

For years, Microsoft has worked to build trust with consumers by being transparent, offering meaningful privacy choices and protecting the security of data. We recognized that legislation is critical to that effort and in November 2005, Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith called for comprehensive federal legislation. Since then, Microsoft has continuously advocated for federal legislation to protect consumer privacy. Most recently, we emphasized these goals in testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee and also in our praise for the Administration’s recently announced support for a federal privacy bill. In addition, we issued a joint statement today with several other technology companies signaling our support for this bipartisan legislation.

With the explosive growth of the Internet, cloud computing and new technological devices, consumers, companies and policymakers are increasingly taking a look at how, where and by whom data is collected, used and shared. The challenge now facing all of us is how to address issues related to security and privacy while enabling businesses to continue developing innovative products and services. Legislation is an important component of a multi-pronged approach to privacy that also includes industry initiatives, technology tools and consumer education. 

The Kerry-McCain approach is a step in the right direction.