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.

Most Recent Statements:

Members of Congress, EU Parliament Discuss Privacy, IP

CCIA Executive Vice President Erika Mann and the former chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus Rick Boucher opened a roundtable discussion Thursday between members of Congress and the European Parliament on privacy and intellectual property as part of Transatlantic Week in Congress. Mann helped found the European Internet Foundation, the counterpart to the Congressional Internet…

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CCIA Applauds Geolocation Legislation

Senator Wyden and Representatives Chaffetz and Goodlatte are introducing legislation Wednesday that would set some ground rules for when companies would be required to turn over both real time and previous data on a customer’s location. The bill means the government would need a warrant to get access to geolocation information for criminal investigations. The…

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UK Cookie Regulations Threaten Online Business

The European Commission recently enacted a new directive that went into force last Thursday night and would strongly regulate the circumstances under which web cookies can be placed on users’ computers. Cookies are small pieces of text that are stored on the user’s computer and are transmitted back to the website that placed it whenever the user…

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Leahy Introduces Online Privacy Legislation

Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy has introduced long awaited legislation to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act that sets the ground rules for law enforcement to gather electronic information on citizens. The existing ECPA law was written before the modern Internet had developed. We now rely more on computing, including cloud computing, and face complex issues…

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