Statement in the Congressional Record by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen.
Re: Introduction of HR 3560, the Online Privacy Protection Act.
Date: February 10, 2000.
Source: Congressional Record, February 10, 2000, page E111.

in the House of Representatives

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to discuss a bill I introduced, H.R. 3560, the Online Privacy Protection Act of 2000. This bill would protect Internet consumers by ensuring they are informed when a website operator is collecting personal information about them, and further providing a process for consumers to `opt out' of allowing companies to use their personal information for marketing and other purposes.

We all know the Internet is one of the most exciting and explosive developments of our time. In fact, many people have called the advent of the Internet the second Industrial Revolution. With the explosion of E-commerce in America and around the world, people are buying everything from food to stocks over the Internet. To allow this exciting sector of our economy to reach its true potential, I believe we must ensure that consumers privacy is not neglected in the process.

There is absolutely no question that the Internet is one of the most valuable and fastest growing forces in our economy. Along with the Internet and so many other advances in technologies, it is easier than ever before to collect information and data and send it around the world with a simple click of a mouse.

As a result of the growth of the Internet and the ease with which website operators have the ability to collect information, it is important that all the players in the Internet industry take proactive steps to protect their consumers. If this is done effectively by the industry itself, perhaps legislation will not be needed.

While the Internet grows at a breathtaking pace, so do consumer concerns about their privacy online. I have heard from many of my constituents in writing, by e-mail, by telephone and at town hall meetings on this issue. Quite frankly, they are shocked by the reports about information being collected about them without their knowledge, let alone the frightening reports that much of the information that is collected is not secure. We do not want consumers to lose confidence in the Internet.

Consumers should have the opportunity to know what information is collected about them, how it is collected and for what purposes. Net surfers want and deserve assurance that personal information that is provided at a website is not misused. That is what H.R. 3560 would do without curtailing the exciting growth and potential of the Internet.