Reuters
By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON-Legislation that would allow Internet users to opt out of having personal data collected has again been introduced on Capitol Hill, becoming at least the fourth bill to focus on consumers' online privacy.

Senator Jay Rockefeller introduced a bill on Monday that would require companies to refrain from collecting information about people who ask not to be tracked. Providers would be able to collect information needed to provide a service -- like ship a package -- but would have to anonymize or delete it as soon as the service had been performed.

"I believe consumers have a right to decide whether their information can be collected and used online. This bill offers a simple, straightforward way for people to stop companies from tracking their movements online," said Rockefeller in a statement. Rockefeller chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

One recent privacy brouhaha arose from the revelation that Apple iPhones collected location data even when that activity was supposed to have been disabled.

Further, Sony Corp reported a breach last month that exposed personal data of more than 100 million of its online video game users. Sony has said it could not rule out that some 12.3 million credit card numbers had been obtained during the hacking.

Privacy advocates argue that companies that collect and store personal data expose the data to possible theft, particularly when they do not delete it when they don't need it.

Three other online privacy bills have been introduced -- by Representatives Bobby Rush and Jackie Speier and by Senators John McCain and John Kerry. It's far too early to tell which, if any, of the four might become law.

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