NSA Surveillance Leaks Drive Proposed Online Privacy Safeguards

    Nov 12, 2013

    In February 2012, the Obama administration unveiled a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” as part of a comprehensive blueprint to protect individual privacy rights and give users more control over how their information is handled. Led by the Department of Commerce, the administration has been working on draft legislation since earlier this year that would codify the blueprint to make it enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The department has been working with industry groups to develop a consensus on increasing legal certainty for companies, strengthening consumer trust, and bolstering the United States’ ability to lead consumer data privacy engagements with its international partners. To read more about the administration’s blueprint, visit this link.

    The revelations of National Security Agency surveillance activities in Europe have created a new sense of urgency for privacy legislation to move forward. In a speech in Washington on October 29, European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding said one of the challenges in completing a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement is the protection of personal data. “It is urgent and essential that our [U.S.] partners take clear action to rebuild trust,” she said. “A system of self-regulation is not enough.”

    On October 24, Rep. Hank Johnson (R-Ga.) sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to move forward with codifying the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. The letter urged the president to consider the Application, Privacy, Protection, and Security Act (H.R. 1913) introduced by Johnson in May as a foundation for protecting consumers’ privacy on mobile devices. The legislation would require mobile app developers to let users know what an app's privacy policies are when it comes to information being shared and retained. It was introduced in response to an FTC report in February suggesting ways for major participants in the mobile ecosystem, such as app developers, advertising networks, and mobile operating system providers, to improve mobile privacy disclosures.

    The Washington Policy Brief is an online advisory that contains brief summaries of recent legislative and regulatory issues that may affect the records and information management profession. Further information about the issue is accessed by clicking on the link provided at the end of each summary.


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