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"Every single day, each of us produce a staggering amount of personal information on the Internet," said Kerry, at a press conference announcing the bill. He noted that every online activity "can be tracked, can be stored, and can be shared on an almost unimaginable scale," and warned that there are currently no laws protecting shared information.
"Companies can harvest our personal information online and keep it for as long as they like, they can sell it without asking permission, or even letting you know," he said. While he added that many companies had high ethical standards, he described the current state of data collection on the Internet as a virtual wild wild west.
"These companies can do virtually whatever they want with our personal information and we have no legal right, today, to tell them to stop."
McCain called the bill "sensible" regulation and said the hard part of negotiating the bill was striking the right balance between the needs of businesses and consumers.
"Our bill seeks to respect the ability of businesses to advertise, market and recruit new customers while also respecting consumers' personal information," he said.
The legislation would give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and State Attorneys General power to enforce its provisions.