Principles on Online Privacy Exposed

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The ALEC Statement of Principles on Online Privacy was adopted by ALEC's Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force at the Annual Meeting on August 1, 2003, approved by the full ALEC Board of Directors August, 2003. A modified version is posted on, re-approved by the Board of Directors on October 22, 2012. Any original language that was removed in the updated version appears as strikethrough text and the new language is given in bold. (Accessed 3/17/2016).

ALEC Statement Text


The American Legislative Exchange Council acknowledges that a market environment is essential for future success of the Internet. The proposed set of policies accounts for new technologies and tools that effectively empower consumers to protect their privacy. A consumer and private-sector-driven approach via self-regulation avoids undue regulatory burden that would threaten a thriving electronic marketplace.

The American Legislative Exchange Council recognizes that the Internet has flourished due in large part to the unregulated environment in which it has developed and grown. Self-regulation, industry-driven standards, individual empowerment and a market environment generally promise greater future success than intrusive governmental regulation.

In order to secure the economic growth and vitality of the electronic marketplace, the American Legislative Exchange Council has developed the following principles regarding the preservation of online privacy in a variety of contexts:

1 I. The private sector should lead. For electronic commerce the information economy and online culture to flourish, the private sector must continue to lead through self-regulation. Innovation, expanded services, broader participation, and lower prices will arise in a market-driven arena, not in an environment that operates as a regulated industry. burdened by over-regulation.

2 II. Government should avoid undue restrictions on electronic commerce the information economy. Parties should be able to enter into legitimate agreements to buy and sell products and services across the Internet buy or use online services with minimal government involvement or intervention interference. Unnecessary regulation of commercial online activities will distort development of the electronic information marketplace by decreasing the supply and raising the costs of products and services for the consumer. Governments should refrain from imposing new and unnecessary regulations and bureaucratic procedures on commercial activities that take place via the Internet already possess tools to address fraud and other harms to consumers. Additional regulation is unnecessary.

3 III. The marketplace is working. The online market has responded favorably and swiftly to consumer concerns regarding the collection and use of personal information. Among other privacy improvements, studies have found that Web sites are collecting less information and privacy notices are more prevalent, prominent and complete. Dynamic market forces have encouraged commercial Web sites to reduce Innovators have crafted tools that let users block cookies, advertising, the use tracking of third party cookies, to track Internet surfing behavior, and third party sharing of information. What these studies demonstrate is that the The market is responding to consumer concerns, without burdensome government regulation.

4 IV. To the greatest extent possible, individuals Individuals should be directing their privacy choices. The most effective privacy policies provide notice, choice, security, and access; individuals should be free to select the policy that best fits their needs. , as described in the Fair Information Practice Principles. Online sites and services should be encouraged to offer more options along these lines and individuals should be free to select the policy that best fits their needs and take responsibility for their online activities.

Adopted by ALEC's Telecommunications & Information Technology Task Force at the Annual Meeting August 1, 2003. Approved by full ALEC Board