Posted at 5:34 PM
In a keynote address and wide-ranging discussion with the Council on Foreign Relations last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the need for government and industry leaders to work together to build trust in the digital economy. The event, Privacy and Data in an Age of Surveillance, focused on the challenges to privacy and security posed by today’s latest digital technologies.
In her remarks, Secretary Pritzker highlighted how new digital tools enable businesses to collect and apply data in unprecedented and innovative ways that hold enormous promise for our economy, from advancing precision medicine to protecting consumers from fraud. However, for the United States to realize the full potential of the digital economy, consumers and businesses must be able to trust in their security and privacy online. Secretary Pritzker emphasized that trust has served as a key pillar of the Department of Commerce’s first-ever digital economy agenda, which aims to promote a free and open Internet worldwide, enhance security and privacy, build a 21st century workforce, and collaborate with industry on emerging technologies.
During her remarks, the Secretary pointed out that strong cybersecurity and privacy protections are vital to America’s global economic competitiveness. That is why the Department of Commerce engaged with its counterparts in Europe for over two years to complete the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework, which bridges gaps in U.S. and European privacy laws in order to ensure that consumers on both sides of the Atlantic can continue to sharing digital information, products, and services. At the same time, Secretary Pritzker highlighted efforts underway throughout the Department of Commerce to collaborate with industry and address vulnerabilities in emerging technologies, such as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s recent engagement on the Internet of Things.
Alongside this progress, Secretary Pritzker closed by acknowledging that unfinished business remains. The Secretary noted that policymakers and industry leaders must continue to engage each other on complex challenges like encryption, which is essential for ensuring consumer privacy but poses unique challenges to law enforcement investigations. Secretary Pritzker also urged policymakers to consider whether current frameworks for privacy will be able to adequately protect privacy as new technologies emerge, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence.