On February 11, 2011, Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced two pieces of legislation that, in her words, “send a clear message—privacy over profit.” The Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011 (HR 654), would direct the Federal Trade Commission to promulgate regulations that establish standards for a “Do Not Track” mechanism. The regulations also would require covered entities to disclose their information practices to consumers, and to respect consumers’ choices regarding the collection and use of their information. The bill includes a provision that would allow the FTC to exempt from its regulations certain “commonly accepted commercial practices” such as using consumer information to provide and improve products and services, to comply with law, or to carry out basic business functions like accounting, quality assurance or internal auditing.

Speier’s other bill, the Financial Information Privacy Act of 2011 (HR 653), would amend the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to require that financial institutions obtain consumers’ express, opt-in consent before disclosing nonpublic personal information to nonaffiliated third parties. The Act also would prevent financial institutions from sharing such information with their affiliates without first providing consumers with notice and an opportunity to opt out.

According to Speier’s press release, her legislative package has the support of the Consumer Federation of America, the Consumers Union, Consumer Action, U.S. PIRG, Consumer Watchdog, the World Privacy Forum, the Center for Digital Democracy and the ACLU. Speier stated that “[c]onsumers have a right to determine what if any of their information is shared with big corporations, and the federal government must have the authority and tools to enforce reasonable protections.”