A senior tech advisor for President Obama on Monday said Internet firms should come up with self-imposed privacy rules that would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.

In a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer Daniel Weitzner said any new law should be “flexible” and “pro-innovation.” He described the White House’s approach as an “alternative regulatory model,” saying that any new online privacy law should be “flexible” and “pro-innovation.”

Privacy advocates said such an approach won't adequately protect consumers who are pouring personal data onto the Web.

But Weitzner warned that the Internet needs growing room without too many strict rules.

“The traditional rule-making process lacks flexibility and agility in the Internet environment,” Weitzner said in his speech at the chamber. “We are much more interested in depending on responsible companies to take a consumer privacy bill of rights and implement them through in voluntarily developing enforceable standards of conduct.”

The White House last spring urged first-time privacy laws for the Internet. The FTC has filed complaints with Google and Twitter over privacy and security lapses and is expected to soon settle a privacy complaint against social networking giant Facebook.

The FTC has also recommended online privacy rules that would include a “Do Not Track” technology mandate that allows consumers to block Web sites from following them on the Internet.

But Weitzner on Monday warned against rules that were too stringent, saying the administration would also work to convince European regulators to adopt their hybrid approach of self-regulation and enforcement.


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