Life insurance companies are strongly opposing an Internet privacy bill they say could effectively destroy online sales of insurance.
The legislation, S. 2201, was introduced by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest F. Hollings, D-S.C., and could be voted on by the committee as early as this week.
The bill would establish strict rules governing the collection and disclosure of “sensitive” personal data–including name, address, phone number, health, race, political party, religious belief, sexual orientation, Social Security number or financial data–by Internet service providers or operators of commercial Web sites.
Under S. 2201, ISPs and commercial Web site operators would be barred from collecting or disclosing personal information of a user unless they provide “clear and conspicuous notice” to the user. They would also have to obtain consent of the user before collecting and disclosing information about “sensitive” issues.
In addition, S. 2201 requires providers and operators to give users “robust” notice of the opportunity to opt out of information gathering and to give users access to all the personal data about them.
The legislation would allow private lawsuits against providers and operators for violations of the act, in addition to vesting the states and Federal Trade Commission with enforcement authority.