Thanks very much to everyone who commented. Each of you made trenchant observations. "Privacy is a thankless debate," an observation of Thomas Claburn, certainly rings true in the case of the privacy issues related to technology facing lawmakers.
I believe Internet founding father Vint Cerf's Nov. 20 remark at the FTC's "Internet of Things" event that "privacy may actually be an anomaly" and that people should not consider privacy a given in the age of social media, serves as an important touchstone for the ongoing debate. With that viewpoint in mind, privacy in today's world is mostly an uphill battle.
It seems among those who commented that there is a consensus here that, as GAO suggested, it is important for lawmakers to make an extra effort on any privacy protection legislation to avoid a potentially overly burdensome one-size-fits-all approach. In this regard, Michael Endler framed the challenge nicely by stating, "Getting anything done will take delicacy."
Tom Murphy did a superb job of laying out many of the questions lawmakers should be asking, and the thorny issues they will be dealing with on the topic of consumer privacy protections and its related challenges.
In GAO's defense it looks like it has been looking into privacy matters regarding technology fairly regularly at least for the past five years and perhaps longer on an intermittent basis based on looking at archives of GAO reports. Granted, the fast pace of the evolution of both social media and wireless devices merit regular assessment of privacy matter for the foreseeable future. As SachinEE writes, "This initiative should not die without having an actual impact."