Lawmakers and industry witnesses gathered at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday to discuss a proposed bill that would protect the privacy of personal information gathered online. While stressing that Congress should take steps to guard against the deceptive use of personal information, participants also agreed on the need to balance consumer protection against the right of business interests to gather information via the Internet that would support growth and innovation in online services. At the hearing, Senate Communications Subcommittee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) confirmed his plan to introduce a “commercial privacy bill of rights” that would prescribe a “common code of conduct that respects the rights of both the people sharing their information and legitimate organizations collecting and using it on fair terms and conditions.” Outlining his proposal, Kerry proclaimed that, while online technology “allows private entities to observe the activities and actions of Americans on a scale previously unimaginable,” there is a positive aspect to the collection of personal data as “all this information sharing is generating immense economic activity and encouraging all kinds of innovation.” As such, Kerry advised: “either we establish clear, flexible rules for behavior . . . or our enforcement agencies will have to step up enforcement against unfair and deceptive practices.” Voicing agreement with Kerry, National Telecommunications & Information Administration Director Larry Strickling noted that the bill should (1) offer “baseline” consumer privacy protections, (2) authorize the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce such protections, and (3) establish a framework “that provides incentives for the development of codes of conduct as well as continued innovation around privacy protections.” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, added that his agency is developing a “do not track” registry that would “go beyond simply opting consumers out of receiving targeted advertisements; it would opt them out of collection of behavioral data for all purposes that are not commonly accepted.” Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), however, cautioned against “[killing] the goose that laid the golden eggs here under the laudable goal of privacy,” as she emphasized that the Internet has been “monetized . . . with behavioral marketing.” As the American Civil Liberties Union urged lawmakers to “reject any approach that relies solely on self-regulation,” a spokesman for the Consumers Union said, “whenever you have people from the White House, the FTC, and the Senate in the same room saying we need to move forward on online privacy legislation, that’s very encouraging.”