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Blog Category: Privacy

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.

Commerce Officials Address Privacy and Innovation at International Conferences

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Lawrence E. Strickling today addressed privacy and innovation at the 32nd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. In his keynote address, Strickling stressed that preserving trust in the Internet is imperative for its sustainability and continued growth. He noted, for example, that “if users do not trust that their personal information is safe on the Internet, they will worry about using new services. If content providers do not trust that their content will be protected, they will threaten to stop putting it online.”

Strickling called for technologists and entrepreneurs, privacy and consumer advocates, business interests, and the government to work together to develop a privacy policy. He envisions “a strong role for voluntary but enforceable codes of conduct, which must be developed through open, multi-stakeholder processes."

Stressing the importance of engaging the international community on privacy, Strickling added, “The time for greater international cooperation is here. All nations, including the United States, must be ready to work together and begin a proactive and productive dialogue on privacy reform efforts.” (Full Remarks)

Earlier this week, Department of Commerce General Counsel Cam Kerry participated in the keynote panel of the 30th Annual OECD Privacy Guidelines Conference and expressed a desire to create a global environment that protects privacy. (Full Remarks)

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.

Files

General Counsel Kerry to co-chair new White House Subcommittee on Privacy

General Counsel Cameron F. Kerry will co-chair the White House Council’s new Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy with Assistant Attorney General Christopher Schroeder.

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to promoting the vast economic opportunity of the Internet and protecting individual privacy, the National Science and Technology Council has launched a new Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy. Populated by representatives from more than a dozen Departments, agencies and Federal offices, and co-chaired by the two of us, the subcommittee will develop principles and strategic directions with the goal of fostering consensus in legislative, regulatory, and international Internet policy realms.

Read More here.

Promoting Security and Protecting Privacy in the Digital Age

General Counsel Cameron F. Kerry TestifiesOn Wednesday, September 22, 2010, General Counsel Cameron Kerry testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Committee is holding a hearing on "The Electronic Communications Privacy Act: Promoting Security and Protecting Privacy in the Digital Age." General Counsel Kerry appeared on a panel with Associate Deputy Attorney General James A. Baker from the Department of Justice. 

General Counsel Kerry’s testimony reflects the work of the Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force on data privacy, cybersecurity, and other issues affecting the digital economy in the 21st Century.

General Counsel Kerry’s testimony reflects the work of the Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force on data privacy, cybersecurity, and other issues affecting the digital economy in the 21st Century.  The testimony discussed changes in the digital landscape since the Electronic Communications Privacy Act was enacted in 1986, especially in cloud computing, mobile phones, and location services.

Here is link to his prepared testimony (PDF).

NIST Software Security Patent to Help Improve Health IT Privacy

A computer security invention patented a decade ago at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is now poised to help safeguard patient privacy in hospitals. The invention—an algorithm that can be built into a larger piece of software—is designed to control access to information systems, and it has attracted the attention of a company that is putting it to use in the health care field. John Barkley, the algorithm’s creator, says the idea could solve one of the pervasive issues in the country’s health care system.

“We think this software will provide dramatically improved security and privacy to patients,” says Barkley, now retired from NIST’s Software and Systems Division and now consulting with Virtual Global, which is commercializing the product. “It solves the problem of overly broad access to patient information, which is widespread.”  Read more

Secretary Locke Announces Public Review of Privacy Policy, Launches Internet Policy Task Force

U.S. Department of Commerce seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced the launch of an initiative designed to gather public input and review the nexus between privacy policy and innovation in the Internet economy. In addition, Locke also announced the formation of a Department of Commerce-wide Internet Policy Task Force to identify leading public policy and operational issues impacting the U.S. private sector's ability to realize the potential for economic growth and job creation through the Internet. (More)

Secretary Locke Appears on "The Daily Show," Discusses 2010 Census

Locke and Stewart shown during interview. Click for larger image of screenshot.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke appeared on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and discussed the 2010 Census now underway. In the interview, Locke noted that the census is completely confidential. Information provided to the Census Bureau is protected by law from being shared with other federal, state and local agencies. Even the provisions of the Patriot Act do not override census privacy protections. He also noted that for every one percent increase in the number of people who mail back their census forms, taxpayers save about $85 million. (Video clip part 1, part 2)

Secretary Locke Highlights E-Commerce's Role in Growing the Economy

Locke on podium.

File Photo

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke highlighted the importance of electronic commerce to the U.S. economy in a keynote speech at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Locke underscored the department’s commitment to working with U.S. industry and consumer advocates to protect consumers’ privacy and security online. The three-day conference will bring together senior government officials, business representatives, civil society, international organizations and academics from OECD and non-member economies to discuss consumer protection issues in today’s Internet economy. (Remarks)

Census Bureau Launches 2010 Census Campaign with New Web Site

Marquee of 2010census.gov Web site. Click to go to Web site.

The Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau kicked off its communications campaign to reach every resident in America with the launch of its 2010 Census Web site, 2010Census.gov. The Web site will serve as a platform for a national dialogue about how the census develops a “Portrait of America.” “2010Census.gov puts the census in the hands of the public,” said Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves. “You can find out when you will get the form, and how to fill it out and mail it back. The site also provides a substantial amount of information regarding our commitment to privacy and confidentiality.” (More)