I’m introducing new legislation to create a Data Protection Agency and bring the protection of your privacy and freedom into the digital age. The US must make an effort to take the lead and do something about data protection. The Data Protection Act would address this head-on. My legislation would establish an independent federal agency, the Data Protection Agency, that would serve as a “referee” to define, arbitrate, and enforce rules to defend the protection of our personal data. This agency would have three core missions:
Encryption is often discussed as an issue of law enforcement, cybersecurity, or free expression for specific groups of users. However, encryption is crucial to the privacy and security of everyone who browses the internet, communicates online, or uses websites for convenient activities like banking, shopping, or tax filing. Now there is a vibrant discussion occurring among stakeholders and the general public about whether there should be any regulations on encryption available to consumers, or special provisions for access by law enforcement.
For more than a year, the [Federal Communications Commission] was silent after news reports alerted us that for just a few hundred dollars, shady middlemen could sell your location within a few hundred meters based on your wireless phone data. It’s chilling to consider what a black market could do with this data. It puts the safety and privacy of every American with a wireless phone at risk. Today this agency finally announced that this was a violation of the law. Millions and millions of Americans use a wireless device every day and didn’t sign up for or consent to this surveillance.
On Jan 31, 2020, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai wrote the following to various Members of Congress:
Americans prefer to keep certain information about themselves outside the purview of online searches. Given the option, 74% of US adults say it is more important to be able to “keep things about themselves from being searchable online,” while 23% say it is more important to be able to “discover potentially useful information about others.”
Avast, an antivirus program used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, is selling highly sensitive web browsing data to many of the world's biggest companies.
Remarks of FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks to Next Century Cities Opportunities for Bipartisan Tech Policy 2020
In 2020 and beyond, my principal focus will be ensuring that our communications networks and technologies support security, privacy, and our democratic values. Internet inequality is a persistent problem that is only growing in urgency. Low-income people, people of color, and people in rural areas either aren’t getting online or are making great sacrifices to get connected. For example, according to a Pew Research study, only 45 percent of adults with incomes under $30,000 have broadband at home. Solving this problem is a moral imperative.
If Democrats are able to wrest control of the White House and Senate in November, dramatic changes could come to the Federal Communications Commission and US communications policy. Net neutrality would be the major issue revisited. A Democratic-controlled FCC might seek to re-establish a role for the FCC in ISP privacy regulation, especially if Congress does not enact a federal consumer privacy law covering ISPs.
[Ari Fitzgerald is a partner at Hogan Lovells]
To help organizations balance building innovative products and services that use personal data while still protecting people’s privacy, NIST is offering a new tool for managing privacy risk. Developed in collaboration with a range of stakeholders, the framework provides a set of privacy protection strategies for organizations that wish to improve their approach to using and protecting personal data.
A Massachusetts judge has ordered Facebook to turn over data about thousands of apps that may have mishandled its users’ personal information, rejecting the tech company’s earlier attempts to withhold the key details from state investigators.