As the U.S. Department of Commerce’s ‘Online Privacy’ conference gets underway this morning in Washington, DC, two major self-regulation initiatives to protect consumer privacy on the Internet will be announced. The Council of Better Business Bureaus will announce it will proceed with the development and implementation of a privacy program through its subsidiary, BBBOnLine. Meanwhile Microsoft, and about 50 other U.S. companies and industry associations, will announce they have joined together to create the ‘Online Privacy Alliance’ to protect the privacy of individuals on the Internet. Among the original founding sponsors of BBBOnLine are AT&T, Sony and Visa U.S.A.. Among participants in the ‘Online Privacy Alliance’ are AOL, IBM and American Express. The BBBOnLine privacy program will feature: privacy standard-setting, verification, monitoring and review, consumer dispute resolution, compliance “seal”, enforcement mechanism and educational components. The BBB’s privacy “seal” program, which incorporates the pertinent guideposts and self-regulation requirements outlined by the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce, is expected to go live late this year. The BBB has contracted with Alan Westin of Columbia University, a privacy issues expert, to assist with developing content. The goals of the ‘Online Privacy Alliance’ were summed-up as follows: “to identify and advance fair privacy protection measures across the private sector; support and foster the development and use of self-regulatory enforcement mechanisms and activities, as well as technology and standards that help protect privacy; and, support compliance with and strong enforcement of applicable laws and regulations.”
Responding to the need identified by the Clinton Administration and businesses for a major self-regulation initiative to protect consumer privacy on the Net and to respond to the European privacy initiatives, the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) announced today that it is proceeding with the development and implementation of a major privacy program through its subsidiary, BBBOnLine (http://www.bbbonline.org).
“For months, leaders within the public and private sectors have been urging the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to devise and implement an effective privacy self-regulation ‘seal’ program that would fill the existing void for a program that would meet the needs of consumers and businesses in electronic commerce,” said Patrick A. Flaherty, chairman of BBBOnLine and senior vice president-marketing, Sony Electronics. “We’re proud to announce that we plan to meet that challenge thanks to the support of several corporate leaders, with major stakes in the success of e-commerce, who have committed the funds to jump-start our program.”
Jamesladue Bast, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, recognized the leadership demonstrated by Lewis E. Platt, chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, for helping to rally industry support for this privacy self-regulation initiative. Dun & Bradstreet, IBM and Procter & Gamble have joined AT&T, Hewlett-Packard and Sony Electronics as full sponsors of the BBBOnLine privacy start-up. Additional financial and leadership support are being provided by America Online, Dell Computers, MCI Communications and J.C. Penney. Other corporations will be joining this leadership effort in the near future.
BBBOnLine has contracted with Alan Westin of Columbia University, a noted authority in privacy issues, to head up a group of leading privacy experts to help build the assessment components that will be blended with the BBB system’s experience in conducting successful national self-regulation and dispute resolution programs.
“Hewlett-Packard knows that respecting and protecting online privacy is essential to building consumer trust and confidence in the Internet. We are directing our support to the BBB system because it has the name recognition, stature and infrastructure already in place to quickly organize and implement an effective and credible self-regulatory privacy program. The CBBB can pull together the key components, including an enforcement mechanism, that will prove critical to the success of self-regulatory efforts to protect consumers’ privacy,” said Hewlett-Packard Chairman and CEO Lewis E. Platt.
“Dun & Bradstreet strongly supports an enforcement and redress mechanism as an essential element of self-regulation. The widely respected Better Business Bureau is the logical organization to create and manage the important Online Privacy Project,” said Dun & Bradstreet Chairman Volney Taylor.
The BBBOnLine privacy self-regulation program will incorporate experience from proven CBBB self-regulation and dispute resolution programs, including the CBBB’s National Advertising Division, Children’s Advertising Review Unit, BBB AUTO LINE, and the BBBOnLine “seal” program (which has approved 1,500 companies to display a seal at their web sites, providing consumers with a means to check on the business’s reliability).
The online privacy program will feature: privacy standard-setting, verification, monitoring and review, consumer dispute resolution, compliance “seal”, enforcement mechanism and educational components.
“Our privacy self-regulation program will offer consumers a trusted, user- friendly tool to help protect their privacy. Businesses will be provided at reasonable cost with a one-stop, non-intrusive means to demonstrate their voluntary compliance with online privacy principles,” Bast said.
The BBB’s privacy “seal” program, which incorporates the pertinent guideposts and self-regulation requirements outlined by the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce, is expected to “go live” late this year.
BBBOnLine, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. Original founding sponsors include Ameritech, AT&T, Eastman Kodak Company, GTE, Hewlett-Packard Company, Netscape, Road Runner Group, A Time Warner Service, Sony Electronics Inc., US West Media Group, Visa U.S.A. Inc., and Xerox Corporation.
Microsoft Joins Online Privacy Alliance
Continuing its commitment to put people in control of their personal information on the Internet, Microsoft Corp. today announced it has joined with nearly 50 U.S. companies and industry associations to create the Online Privacy Alliance, a cross-industry coalition committed to protecting the privacy of individuals on the Internet.
The goals of the Alliance are to identify and advance fair privacy protection measures across the private sector; support and foster the development and use of self-regulatory enforcement mechanisms and activities, as well as technology and standards that help protect privacy; and, support compliance with and strong enforcement of applicable laws and regulations. The Alliance and its members also plan to support policies that protect the privacy of children and promote broad awareness of, and participation in, Alliance initiatives by businesses, non-profit organizations, consumers and others.
“As evidenced by today’s actions, Microsoft is committed to building consumer trust on the Internet and to empowering people with the ability to manage their personal information online,” said Bob Herbold, Microsoft’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We are confident that by working with this broad range of leading companies and organizations, such as AOL, AT&T, IBM, DMA, Time Warner, American Express, Procter and Gamble, Viacom and others, we are creating a strong and effective framework for self- regulation, which will help ensure a safe and secure Internet environment for people of all ages.”