“The Obama administration on Wednesday outlined a set of online privacy principles that officials said would help consumers control the use of their personal data gleaned from Internet searches,” Edward Wyatt reports for The New York Times.

“The framework for a new privacy code moves electronic commerce closer to a one-click, one-touch process by which users can tell Internet companies whether they want their online activity tracked,” Wyatt reports. “Much remains to be done before consumers can click on a button in their Web browser to set their privacy standards. Congress will probably have to write legislation governing the collection and use of personal data, officials said, something that is unlikely to occur this year. And the companies that make browsers — Google, Microsoft, Apple and others — will have to agree to the new standards.”

“‘American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online,’ President Obama said in a statement released Wednesday. ‘By following this blueprint, companies, consumer advocates and policy makers can help protect consumers and ensure the Internet remains a platform for innovation and economic growth,’” Wyatt reports. “Even before Congress approves privacy legislation, the Federal Trade Commission will have the ability to enforce compliance with a code of conduct to be developed by the Commerce Department or with advertising industry guidelines that companies would adopt voluntarily, Jon Leibowitz, the chairman of the F.T.C., said during a call with reporters on Wednesday.”

Wyatt reports, “The real question is how much influence companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook will have in their inevitable attempt to water down the rules that are implemented and render them essentially meaningless,” John M. Simpson, privacy project director for Consumer Watchdog, said in response to the administration’s plan. “A concern is that the administration’s privacy effort is being run out of the Commerce Department.”

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