WASHINGTON — American consumers fundamentally misunderstand how Internet companies use their personal information, according to a new survey that concludes tougher federal privacy laws are needed.
The study from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, being released today, said 86 percent of 1,200 surveyed adults think companies should be required by law to standardize the promises they make on Web sites about how personal information will be protected.
The findings renewed demands for fresh U.S. privacy laws even as the threat of terrorism and heightened security to meet it have supplanted privacy as a cornerstone for technology policy debates in Washington.
Timothy Muris, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, has said the agency would step up enforcement of existing privacy laws, and privacy has not been a major issue in congressional debates.
“This kind of privacy issue has sort of fallen down the list of things that legislators have paid attention to over the last couple years,” said Robert Pitofsky, a former commission chairman. [Privacy Digest]