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.

Facial Recognition and the Panopticon

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law held the first of what will probably be many hearings on the privacy implications of facial recognition software. Much of the conversation somewhat predictably focused on how companies are making use of this new technology, and we agree that care should be…

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CCIA Testifies In Support Of GPS Act

The tech industry is welcoming legislation Congress is proposing to update our outdated electronic privacy laws – written before almost anyone carried cell phones. Today Computer & Communications Industry Association President & CEO Ed Black told the House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee during its hearing that failure to address the geolocation privacy loophole is a problem…

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FTC Testifies On Privacy, Competition At Senate Commerce Hearing

Privacy as a competition issue was a focus at the Senate Commerce Committee’s hearing on online privacy Thursday. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz said having privacy rules could help provide a level playing field between companies that have privacy policies and those who don’t. Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen said, however, said something to be cautious of is enacting…

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FTC Releases Final Privacy Report

Yesterday the FTC released the long-awaited Final Report on privacy entitled “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change.” This report follows on to the FTC Staff Report released in December 2010 on the subject.  CCIA filed response comments last year. The new report follows on, to a large degree, with comments that the…

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