|Weekly News Digest
December 20, 2010 — In addition to this week's NewsBreak(s), the editors have compiled the Weekly News Digest, featuring stories from the week just past that you should know about. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today.
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Commerce Department Calls for 'Privacy Bill of Rights'
The U.S. Department of Commerce 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.
The report notes that the nation’s privacy framework must evolve to keep pace with changes in technology, online services, and internet usage. To keep the digital economy growing, consumers need more transparency and control when it comes to the use and protection of their personal information, and innovators need greater certainty in order to meet consumer privacy expectations and the array of regulatory requirements they face around the world.
The following are key recommendations in the 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: The report recommends considering a clear set of principles concerning how online companies collect and use personal information for commercial purposes. These principles would be recognized by the U.S. government and serve as a foundation for online consumer data privacy. They would build on existing Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs) that are widely accepted among privacy experts as core obligations.
The adoption of baseline FIPPs, akin to a “Privacy Bill of Rights. Should prompt companies to be more transparent about their use of consumer information; to provide greater detail about why data is collected and how it is used; to put clearer limits on the use of data; and to increase their use of audits and other ways to bolster accountability.
Encourage Global Interoperability to Spur Innovation and Trade: Reducing regulatory barriers to trade is a high priority for the Obama administration. Currently, disparate privacy laws have a growing impact on global competition. The report recommends that the U.S. government work together with its trading partners to find practical means of bridging differences in our privacy frameworks. Collaborations with other privacy authorities around the world can reduce the significant business compliance costs. This global engagement could play a key role in a new dynamic privacy framework.
Consider How to Harmonize Disparate Security Breach Notification Rules: As an initial step towards consideration of a new privacy framework, the report recommends looking at ways in which to harmonize the rules that set standards for businesses to notify customers about commercial data security breaches. This comprehensive national approach to commercial data breaches would provide clarity to consumers, streamline industry compliance, and allow businesses to develop a strong, nationwide data management strategy.
This national approach, enacted through Federal law, could help to reconcile inconsistent state laws, authorize enforcement by the FTC, and preserve state authorities’ existing enforcement power. This recommendation is not aimed at preempting federal security breach notification laws for specific sectors, such as healthcare.
Review the Electronic Communications Privacy Act for the Cloud Computing Environment: The report recommends that the Obama Administration review the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to address privacy protection in cloud computing and location-based services. A goal of this effort should be to ensure that, as technology and market conditions change, ECPA continues to appropriately protect individuals’ privacy expectations and punish unlawful access and disclosure of consumer data.
The report was issued 2 weeks after the FTC released its privacy report, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers.”.
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce
Paula J. Hane
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