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Blog Category: Online Privacy

Commerce Department’s NTIA Announces First Privacy Multistakeholder Process Topic

Friday, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced the first topic for the multistakeholder process called for by the Obama Administration's Consumer Privacy Blueprint.  On July 12th, 2012, NTIA will convene stakeholders to begin developing codes of conduct to provide transparency in how companies providing applications and interactive services for mobile devices handle personal data.  More information about the first multistakeholder process is available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/headlines/2012/first-privacy-multistakeholder-meeting-july-12-2012, and a blog post from NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling is available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/blog/2012/putting-consumer-privacy-bill-rights-practice.

Protecting Consumers & Promoting Innovation Online: A Call for Baseline Privacy Legislation

Guest blog post by Cameron Kerry, General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The time has come for Congress to pass strong Internet consumer privacy legislation that provides clear rules of the road for businesses and consumers while preserving the innovation and free flow of information that are hallmarks of the Internet economy.

That’s the Obama Administration’s conclusion based on the work we have been doing on commercial data privacy.  Three months ago, the Commerce Department published its Green Paper, which contained preliminary policy recommendations to enhance consumer protection and strengthen online trust, while ensuring the Web remains a platform for innovation, jobs, and economic growth

In response, the Commerce Department received thoughtful and well-researched comments from over a hundred stakeholders representing industry, consumer groups, and academic sectors.  We carefully reviewed all them.  Through the Privacy and Internet Policy Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), which I co-chair with Assistant Attorney General Christopher Schroeder, we consulted with Federal agencies and key White House offices to develop a roadmap for moving forward on this important Administration priority.

Based our review, we have concluded that baseline consumer privacy legislation will strengthen the U.S. Internet privacy framework for consumers and businesses alike.  The Obama Administration is committed to working with Congress to pass a bill that provides a stronger statutory framework to protect consumers’ privacy interests in data that are collected and used or disclosed in commercial contexts in the Internet economy, while supporting innovation.  Consumer privacy legislation should have the following elements:

The Commerce Department’s Latest Privacy Initiative on Data Privacy Day

Today is Data Privacy Day, an annual international celebration to raise awareness and generate discussion about information privacy designated by both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives in 2009. In honor of Data Privacy Day, here’s an update on the latest Commerce Department initiative to protect the privacy of the American people.

On Jan. 7 at a discussion forum with business and academic leaders at Stanford University, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard A. Schmidt unveiled plans to establish a National Program Office at the Commerce Department to help implement the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, an administration initiative that aims to foster private-sector development of new technologies that can improve both the privacy and the security of sensitive online transactions.

Cybercrime and identity theft cost U.S. consumers hundreds of millions of dollars annually. So the idea is that the private sector would lead the development of better technologies for consumers and businesses to establish their identities before they conduct sensitive transactions like banking, shopping or downloading health care records. The Commerce Department would facilitate the process by building consensus on standards and managing collaborative efforts with other federal agencies.

General Counsel Kerry addresses the 2011 State of the Net Conference

On January 18, 2011, DOC General Counsel Kerry delivered keynote remarks at the seventh annual State of the Net Conference hosted by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee.  The conference is one of the largest information technology policy conference in the U.S. and provides a venue for academics, consumer groups, industry and government to hear from policy experts from across the spectrum of information technology issues and to interact in a bi-partisan environment.

In his remarks, General Counsel Kerry highlighted key policy recommendations from the Commerce Department’s recently released  policy green paper “Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework.” These policy recommendations aim to promote consumer privacy online while ensuring the Internet remains a platform that spurs innovation, job creation, and economic growth.  Recommendations included: establishing Fair Information Practice Principles comparable to a “privacy bill of rights” for online consumers; developing enforceable privacy codes of conduct in specific sectors with multi-stakeholder input; and engaging the international community to encourage global Interoperability. The Department is seeking additional public comment on the privacy paper to further the policy discussion and ensure the framework benefits all stakeholders in the Internet economy. Comments are due January 28th.

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Commerce Official Says Online Consumer Privacy is Critical to a Strong Digital Economy

Both industry and public interest groups agree that online consumer privacy should be strengthened, said Daniel Weitzner, NTIA’s Associate Administrator for Policy. Speaking in Washington D.C. today, Weitzner said that public response to the Commerce Department’s inquiry into online privacy underscores the need to bolster privacy in a manner that continues to ensure the Web remains a platform for innovation, jobs, and economic growth.

Weitzner said that the Commerce Department’s decision to address online privacy and other Internet policy issues stems from the significant and growing social and economic contributions that the Internet makes to our lives. For example, domestic online transactions are currently estimated to total $3.5 trillion annually, and digital commerce is a leading source of job growth.  “Preserving consumer trust is essential to the sustainability and continued growth of the digital economy,” said  Weitzner.

Based on stakeholder feedback gained through the Commerce Department’s inquiry, Weitzner outlined an approach that can promote innovation while increasing consumer trust, including committing to baseline privacy principles and convening stakeholders to develop voluntary but enforceable codes of conduct to implement those principles.

General Counsel Kerry addresses the OECD 30th Annual Privacy Guidelines Conference in Jerusalem

Alternate TextYesterday, General Counsel Kerry participated in the keynote panel of the 30th Annual OECD Privacy Guidelines Conference.  The conference's opening remarks were delivered by Director General Guy Rotkopf of the Israeli Ministry of Justice and OECD Deputy Secretary-General Richard Boucher.  The keynote panel entitled “Privacy in the Context of the Internet -- Recording Everything and Forgetting Nothing?” featured GC Kerry, joined by Jennifer Stoddart, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada; Andrew Wyckoff, Director of Science, the Technology and Industry, OECD; and Marie Shroff, the Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand (as pictured from right to left). 

The group discussed a broad range of privacy principles and issues facing government officials and policy makers in both the private and public sectors.  In his remarks, Kerry expressed a desire to create a global environment that fosters meaningful tools to protect privacy.  He also focused on developing a policy that will create the trust that is necessary for consumers, industry and government to continue the innovation that has caused tremendous economic growth.  The first day of the conference then concluded with closing remarks from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

More information on the OECD Privacy Conference here.

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