“What worries me is what worries consumers,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (R-CT). “(1) Security and (2) privacy.”

Blumenthal spoke at a Washington Post Live forum on the Internet of Things today, down the block from MRA's offices. He touched on a broad range of privacy, data security and other consumer protection issues. After referring to advertisers and marketers as “the exploiters,” he emphasized that “the key is personal choice… to decide what’s done with" personal information. For the consumer, “if you want to share it with the world, if you want people marketing to you… that should be your choice.”

Blumenthal said that the goals he is striving for in Congress are “giving consumers information that they need to make choices” and “alerting them that they can control that information.”

Senator Blumenthal was mentioned in MRA’s list of the top 10 government players in consumer privacy in 2014.

He plugged Senator Jay Rockefeller’s Do Not Track Online Act (which he cosponsored), as one part of the solution.

“I think consumers… should have the maximum control over that information. They should, in a sense, be required to opt in.” Unfortunately, he noted, “reasonable, common sense measures do not get through” Congress right now. Asked if he felt that the Do Not Track Online Act qualified as such a measure, he nodded yes.

Asked about citizens’ concerns about Edward Snowden and NSA surveillance, Blumenthal expressed concern about the “intrusiveness and invasiveness generally of taking personal information” and noted that it is “not limited to government. Private companies” do much more with a lot less transparency.

“I’m in a sense more worried about the private sector because the government, the public sector, is always under scrutiny. I’m more worried about the unseen world of the private sector.” That’s what motivated him to introduce the Personal Data Protection and Breach Accountability Act, he said. In effect, Blumenthal followed the approach of President Obama. (In response to NSA concerns, the President launched a review of Big Data and privacy focused primarily on private sector data collection, not government collection.)

Asked if public and private data collection should be treated as separatel “buckets,” the Senator demurred. “I’m very concerned about both.”