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Blog Category: Internet privacy

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.

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.

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.

Files

Released: Policy Framework for Protecting Consumer Privacy Online While Supporting Innovation

The Department of Commerce today issued a report detailing initial policy recommendations aimed at promoting consumer privacy online while ensuring the Internet remains a platform that spurs innovation, job creation, and economic growth.  The report outlines a dynamic framework to increase protection of consumers’ commercial data and support innovation and evolving technology. The Department is seeking additional public comment on the plan to further the policy discussion and ensure the framework benefits all stakeholders in the Internet economy.

“America needs a robust privacy framework that preserves consumer trust in the evolving Internet economy while ensuring the Web remains a platform for innovation, jobs, and economic growth. Self-regulation without stronger enforcement is not enough. Consumers must trust the Internet in order for businesses to succeed online.” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

Today’s report, based on extensive public input and discussion, recognizes the growing economic and social importance of preserving consumer trust in the Internet.  Global online transactions are currently estimated at $10 trillion annually. Between 1998 and 2008, the number of domestic IT jobs grew by 26 percent – four times faster than U.S. employment as a whole – with IT employment projected to increase another 22 percent by 2018.

The following are key recommendations in today’s preliminary report, Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework:

  • Consider Establishing Fair Information Practice Principles comparable to a “Privacy Bill of Rights” for Online Consumers
  • Consider Developing Enforceable Privacy Codes of Conduct in Specific Sectors with Stakeholders; Create a Privacy Policy Office in the Department of Commerce
  • Encourage Global Interoperability to Spur Innovation and Trade
  • Consider How to Harmonize Disparate Security Breach Notification Rules
  • Review the Electronic Communications Privacy Act for the Cloud Computing Environment

Read the more detailed press release.  |  Learn more about and read the report.

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)