As the digital economy expands, more attention is being paid to the impact of data processing on consumers and how to maintain responsible and trustworthy treatment of personal information. Companies have responded to shifting consumer views and expectations about how data is collected and used online by developing new data transparency tools and controls. Policymakers are also seeking ways to ensure that data controllers exercise fair information practices to protect and empower users while also encouraging innovation and protecting economically vital flows of data, particularly across borders.

CCIA’s View

New technologies and data practices have stressed the traditional U.S. sectoral approach to protecting consumer privacy. In response, Congress should adopt a federal baseline consumer privacy law to ensure that consumers’ personal information is handled responsibly no matter where it is collected or who is processing it. This framework should set consistent transparency requirements, consumer controls, and accountability measures for data controllers, while empowering the Federal Trade Commission to carry out robust enforcement. Such a framework should be risk-focused, technology-neutral, and provide safe harbors and flexibility for organizations to make adjustments according to the needs of individuals and evolving technology.

Developing comprehensive and durable privacy rules requires balance. The desire to bring the power of government to bear on the issue is a strong one, but it must be set against the need to encourage innovation, unlock the incredible social value of big data, and not to infringe upon related values such as the freedom of speech. Overly prescriptive or onerous regulation risks creating high barriers to entry for new companies and may even prohibit the creation of beneficial new technologies and privacy protective techniques and services.

CCIA Awaiting Upcoming Email Privacy Act Markup

Washington — In the next couple of weeks, the House Judiciary Committee will likely markup the Email Privacy Act, the leading bill aimed at reforming the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).  ECPA governs the circumstances under which online service providers may disclose the contents of communications or customer records to the government.  CCIA strongly supports…

-

House Approves Surveillance Reform Measures By Wide Margin

Washington — The House of Representatives has passed the USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048) by an emphatic 338-88 vote.  The Act would limit the government’s surveillance abilities by eliminating bulk metadata collection across a range of authorities and institute improved transparency and oversight mechanisms for other surveillance practices.  The Senate is expected to take up…

-

CCIA Calls On Congress To Pass Surveillance Reforms After Court Finds Bulk Metadata Collection Illegal

Washington — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Thursday that the NSA’s bulk collection of phone and other records was never authorized under section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.  The intelligence community has argued for the legality of their intelligence gathering practices since well before the first Snowden revelations about the extent…

-

France should not repeat U.S. surveillance mistakes

Following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, the French government has put forward a controversial bill aimed at boosting its intelligence services. The proposal is expected to be voted into law by the Senate before Summer. The proposal brings to mind the USA PATRIOT Act and other controversial counterterrorism laws which were all rushed through…

-