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Blog Category: National Telecommunications and Information Administration

NTIA: Putting the Administration’s Privacy Blueprint into Practice

NTIA logo

Just weeks after the Obama administration released its blueprint to improve consumer privacy and ensure that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth, Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is moving forward to put the plan into practice.
 
NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling told an audience at the Hudson Institute yesterday that the administration supports enacting the blueprint’s "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights" into law, but can make progress without waiting for Congress to act. He said the agency will promptly begin convening stakeholders to develop enforceable codes of conduct that specify how the broad principles in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights apply in specific business contexts.

“The multistakeholder approach for privacy is viable without new legislation, and getting it up and running is an important focus for NTIA right now,” Strickling said.

Shortly after release of the administration’s privacy blueprint, NTIA invited public comment on which consumer privacy issue it should designate as the first topic for development of a code of conduct. NTIA also sought comment on the process stakeholders should use in working together to develop codes. The agency is now reviewing input from a wide range of stakeholders.

General Counsel Kerry Amplifies President Obama’s Consumer Privacy Protection Message in Europe

by Cameron F. Kerry

As co-chair of the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy, I am proud to have worked on the Obama administration’s comprehensive blueprint to improve consumer privacy protections, the "Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy" (PDF).  As the president stated in the report, “we must reject the conclusion that privacy is an outmoded value.  It has been at the heart of our democracy from its inception, and we need it now more than ever.”

This is the message I took to European lawmakers, officials, and businesses about the administration’s privacy policy framework. Central to the framework is the tenet that consumers who have confidence their privacy is respected are more likely to express themselves online, engage in commercial activity, and form social connections on the Internet. Consumer trust is essential for a strong digital economy, which in turn provides a platform for greater innovation and job creation.

In today’s Internet age, our world is no longer easily defined by national borders.  Information flows around the world as companies seek to meet the demands of international customers and individuals share their lives and experiences globally. Finding ways to protect personal information while facilitating cross-border data flows is a central aim of the administration’s privacy blueprint.

Over the course of my meetings in Europe, I talked about the president’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and our commitment to promote the free flow of information by fostering the interoperability of international privacy frameworks. I discussed the importance of building on tools such as the EU-US Safe Harbor Framework that have helped to protect consumer information while facilitating international trade.

I look forward to continuing our work at the Department of Commerce to implement the administration’s privacy blueprint. Last week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration released a request for comments as it prepares to begin convening stakeholders to develop codes of conduct based on the Consumer Bill of Rights, and on March 19 the EU's Justice Directorate General will come to Washington, D.C. to discuss the Safe Harbor Framework and other tools for the global flow of information.

National Consumer Protection Week: Spotlight on Trusted Identities

National Consumer Protection Week logo

On Monday, President Obama declared March 4-10, 2012 as National Consumer Protection Week, building on a coordinated effort that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. The Commerce Department is using this occasion to showcase the efforts of our Internet Policy Task Force, which is leveraging the expertise of several Commerce bureaus that are aimed at ensuring continued innovation in the Internet economy and preserving consumer trust in Internet commerce and online interactions. In particular, the Task Force continues to move forward in our work to promote new efforts that will lead to improved Internet privacy protection and better security for consumers online.

One of the biggest problems facing consumers online is the heavy reliance on usernames and passwords.  Most Internet users are asked to create so many logins and passwords that they have to create coping mechanisms to keep track of them all, from using the same one as often as possible to writing them all down, none of which lead to strong security practices.  In fact, exploiting the inherent weaknesses of passwords was the top method attackers used last year, according to the 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report produced by Verizon.  

General Counsel Kerry Amplifies President Obama’s Consumer Privacy Protection Message in Europe

Cam Kerry seated at conference table in Berlin

Guest blog post by Cameron F. Kerry, Department of Commerce General Counsel

As co-chair of the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy, I am proud to have worked on the Obama administration’s comprehensive blueprint to improve consumer privacy protections, the “Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy” (PDF).  As the president stated in the report, “we must reject the conclusion that privacy is an outmoded value.  It has been at the heart of our democracy from its inception, and we need it now more than ever.”

This is the message I took to European lawmakers, officials, and businesses about the administration’s privacy policy framework. Central to the framework is the tenet that consumers who have confidence their privacy is respected are more likely to express themselves online, engage in commercial activity, and form social connections on the Internet. Consumer trust is essential for a strong digital economy, which in turn provides a platform for greater innovation and job creation.

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson Delivers Remarks at Unveiling of “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” at the White House

Internet Privacy Bill of Rights

Today, Secretary John Bryson joined National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz for the unveiling of an online “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” (PDF) at an event at the White House. The Secretary spoke about the need to protect consumers and encourage the growth of responsible online commerce.

As Secretary Bryson pointed out, millions of Americans shop, sell, bank, learn, talk and work online. Online retail sales are now nearing $200 billion annually in the U.S.

Yet we have all seen stories of consumer data being lost, compromised, or stolen.

Privacy and trust online has never been more important to both businesses and consumers. More and more consumers are concerned about their information being used only as intended.  

The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights will help protect consumers’ personal data, provide businesses with better guidance on how to meet consumers’ privacy expectations, and ensure that the Internet remains a strong platform for commerce, innovation, and growth.

NTIA Recovery Act Broadband Grantees Recognized at White House Ceremony as Innovators in Infrastructure

Photo: Don Welch (Merit), Assistant Secretary Strickling, Joe Freddoso (MCNC), Rob Mancini (District of Columbia), Elwood Downing (Merit), Dave Lambert (Internet2/UCAID), Greg Urban (State of Maryland).

Yesterday, two NTIA Recovery Act broadband grantees were among  11 local leaders from across the country honored at the White House as “Champions of Change.” Joe Freddoso, President and CEO of MCNC, and Donald Welch, President and CEO of Merit Network Inc, were recognized for using innovative techniques to develop valuable projects helping to improve America’s infrastructure.

Merit Network and MCNC both received Recovery Act grants from NTIA for broadband infrastructure projects that are currently underway and connecting community anchor institutions in Michigan and North Carolina, including schools, libraries, and hospitals, to high-speed Internet.  Under the leadership of Welch and Freddoso, Merit and MCNC have put hundreds of people to work and are laying the groundwork for sustainable economic growth and improved education, healthcare, and public safety.

BTOP Case Study: Building 21st Century Job Skills in California

In today’s information-age economy, broadband is becoming a necessity for anyone searching for or applying for a job. Many job openings are only posted online. And about 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies only accept applications online. What’s more, in the current job market, digital literacy skills are often a requirement. For example, about 60 percent of working Americans use the Internet as an integral part of their jobs. Yet too many Americans lack the broadband access or skills needed to succeed in the workforce.

To help address this gap, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP, is investing approximately $4 billion in roughly 230 projects to increase broadband access and adoption around the country. The Recovery Act program, which is administered by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, recognizes that broadband can be a key to economic empowerment.

The Critical Role Broadband Plays in Today's Economy

Guest blog post by Anna M. Gomez, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Deputy Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration

This week I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion hosted by the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, or NOBEL, that examined how broadband is helping to address many of America’s most pressing challenges.

A robust broadband infrastructure is critical for America to remain competitive in the 21st century. Broadband provides a foundation for innovation, job creation and economic growth. Broadband is also transforming healthcare by enabling patients in rural areas to consult with medical specialists hundreds of miles away. It is opening doors in education by allowing students to take online classes at universities across the country. And it is changing the way we communicate, form personal connections, access information, shop and conduct many everyday transactions.

The Obama administration is working to ensure that more Americans have the resources and skills to share in these benefits and opportunities. This is particularly critical in today’s job market, since many job openings are posted only online and since digital literacy skills are a requirement in many workplaces.

One highlight of the administration’s work in this area is the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP, a Recovery Act program administered by the NTIA that is investing nearly $4 billion in roughly 230 projects to expand broadband access and adoption across the country. These projects are building networks in rural America and other places where existing systems are inadequate, and connecting schools, hospitals and other vital community anchor institutions. They are opening computer centers in schools, libraries and other public buildings to provide broadband access for people who want to go online but lack the resources at home. And they are teaching computer and digital literacy skills, providing online job search and resume writing assistance, and even training people for technical jobs in the information-age economy.

A Look Ahead to 2012: NTIA by the Numbers

National Broadband Map

In the coming year, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will continue its focus on three key areas: expanding high speed Internet access and adoption, freeing up more spectrum for wireless broadband, and promoting policies that preserve the Internet as an engine for innovation and economic growth. Here are some numbers to illustrate these challenges.  Shown: National Broadband Map

Spotlight on Commerce: Anna M. Gomez, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Deputy Administrator, NTIA

Photo of two outside

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of winning the future through their work.

Anna Gomez is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and the Deputy Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

As Deputy Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, I serve essentially as the Chief Operating Officer of the agency. Though much of my time is spent on management, I also work on public policy, especially the challenges of expanding broadband Internet use in underserved communities and improving communications for the nation’s first responders. I am honored to play a role in addressing issues that are so vital to our nation’s safety and economic future. 

My career path began early. I was born in the United States but spent most of my childhood in Bogota, Colombia, where my father’s family lives. I knew since childhood that I would one day become a lawyer because my mother always told me so. (I would like to think that she recognized in me a precocious talent for logic and deduction, but she was actually commenting on my willingness to argue a point!) I returned to the United States as a teen and did indeed go to law school. I am glad that I did because the law is a good foundation for a career in public service, though it is certainly not mandatory.