SAN FRANCISCO — A battlefront is forming over online privacy issues, and the National Association of Realtors has weighed in on its members’ ability to collect some user data.

Reps. Rick Boucher, D-Va., and Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., in May announced draft legislation that seeks additional protections for the privacy of consumers’ personal data, both online and offline, and would require many companies to provide "clear" and "understandable" privacy policies about how information is "collected, used and disclosed."

Mark Lesswing, chief technology officer for the National Association of Realtors, in a presentation today at the Real Estate Connect conference, said NAR is pursuing a sort of "opt-out" from some of the proposed provisions in the legislation, and the association expressed concerns about the "broad application, the burden of supplying privacy policy notifications for offline data and the conflicts that arise with existing federal privacy laws," according to an announcement at

In a letter to Boucher and Stearns, NAR President Vicki Cox Golder wrote that the draft legislation, if enacted, could "impose a difficult and costly compliance burden on our industry especially impacting independent contractors and small businesses," and also could have "serious unintended consequences both for Realtors and for homebuying consumers."

The letter also states that the draft legislation provides no "safe harbor exemption of businesses complying with industry best practices," and introduces conflicts with existing federal privacy laws.

Lesswing said the draft legislation seems to particularly target the practice of reselling consumers’ information.

He noted that NAR "has one of the largest lobbying arms in Congress," to weigh in on legislation such as the draft privacy bill.

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