WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration unveiled a proposed “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” in a federal report last Thursday. It's part of a blueprint to ramp up consumer privacy protections on the internet, but it could also add additional requirements for dealers when it comes to protecting customer data.

The Privacy Bill of Rights identifies clear protections for consumers, gives internet users more control over how their personal information is used and helps businesses that collect data from consumers —whether directly or indirectly — maintain consumer trust, the report states.

The Administration said it will work with Congress to develop legislation around the rights outlined in the report to extend baseline privacy protections to commercial sectors that current privacy laws do not cover.

“American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online,” said President Obama last week. “As the Internet evolves, consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy. That’s why an online privacy Bill of Rights is so important. For businesses to succeed online, consumers must feel secure. By following this blueprint, companies, consumer advocates and policymakers can help protect consumers and ensure the Internet remains a platform for innovation and economic growth.”

The proposal comes at a time when automotive industry figures like Jim Ziegler are raising concerns over vendor access to customer data through dealership management systems. TrueCar Inc., a web-based marketing channel, has been at the focal point of their campaign because of its access to dealer management systems, but the group is now urging dealers to monitor what other vendors are accessing.

The Obama Administration’s announcement also follows recent buzz around Google Inc.’s new privacy policy, which is scheduled to take effect on March 1. It will allow for greater information sharing between Google’s products without providing consumers with “opt-in” or “opt-out” options in some instances, according to the National Association of Attorneys General.

In the coming weeks, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration will meet with companies, consumer advocates, technical experts and others to establish practices that implement the general principles in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, according to a White House statement. Auto industry insiders said it’s too early to tell how this will affect dealers and their vendors, but said the industry is keeping a close eye on the proposal.

Under the proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, consumers are provided with rights to the following:

• Transparency: Consumers have a right to easily understandable information about privacy and security practices.

• Respect for Context: Consumers have a right to expect that organizations will collect, use, and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data.

• Security: Consumers have a right to secure and responsible handling of personal data.

• Access and Accuracy: Consumers have a right to access and correct personal data in usable formats, in a manner that is appropriate to the sensitivity of the data and the risk of adverse consequences to consumers if the data is inaccurate.

• Focused Collection: Consumers have a right to reasonable limits on the personal data that companies collect and retain.

• Accountability: Consumers have a right to have personal data handled by companies with appropriate measures in place to assure they adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

To view the full report, click here.