Press release of Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Re: introduction of S 809, the Online Privacy Protection Act of 1999.

Date: April 15, 1999.
Source: Paper copies distributed at press conference of Sen. Burns and Sen. Wyden on April 15, 1999.

For immediate release:
Thursday, April 15, 1999

Burns, Wyden Introduce Privacy Bill
Security of Information Seen As Major Hurdle to Expansion of E-Commerce

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Montana Senator Conrad Burns today introduced the Online Privacy Protection Act of 1999, which helps ensure the security of personal information on the Internet.

The bill institutes a system aimed at giving consumers control over personal information Web sites collect and how that information is used. The Online Privacy Protection Act would require commercial Web sites to notify visitors if any information is collected. In addition, visitors to commercial Web sites would be able to "opt out" of having their information collected.

"Consumers have the right to know who is collecting information about them and how that information is being used," Burns said. "Many people are terrified that using the Internet will put their credit card numbers or even Social Security numbers into the hands of people who do not mean well, and that's not entirely unjustified. This bill is a good first step to securing Internet users' personal information."

In addition to personal privacy concerns, Burns said that the bill was important for the future of electronic commerce. Over $50 billion in goods were sold over the Internet in 1998. Around Christmas alone, consumers spent $4 billion over the Internet, which is three times the amount spent during the 1997 holiday season.

Industry leaders have projected a rapid expansion of Internet commerce in the near future. John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, has estimated that a quarter of all global commerce will be transacted over the Internet by 2010.

"The Internet holds great promise as an international marketplace, but consumers won't use it to its full potential unless they feel safe," Burns said. "The Internet could transform the way many Americans do business, which has ramifications far beyond Wall Street.

"Right now, there is a crisis in rural America, and many people feel they have to choose between giving up their rural heritage and supporting their families. If electronic commerce is allowed to expand, folks in states like Montana and Oregon will be able to make a good living without giving up their tight-knit communities."

Burns is chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee, which oversees many Internet and electronic commerce issues.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), also a member of the Senate Communications Subcommittee, is cosponsoring the legislation.

Bill Summary -- "Online Privacy Act of 1999"

Privacy Policy Disclosure


Termination of Service



Self-regulatory Incentives


Civil Actions

Federal Preemption