The DC Voice

How Long Will it Take Congress to Design a State of the Art Federal Privacy Data Policy for the American People?

Once upon a time when a person wanted some privacy, they could simply close their blinds, or close their bedroom door so their juicy conversation didn’t carry over into the kitchen.  Today, people have less control over who has access to their private information beyond the blinds and closing the bedroom door for some privacy. They’re forced to either opt-in or opt-out of various Internet platform data sharing settings with limited understanding of the terms of use, and rights to access the information shared on platforms such as Apple, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Google, and Twitter, along with others in beta testing phase.  Moreover, what’s not in a beta testing phase is the critical and urgent need for Congress to design a unique American Data Privacy Policy.

Designing a Federal Data Privacy Policy

What will that Federal Privacy Data Policy consist of?  Who is designing it?  And how long will the policy be in use since technology advances on an average of every 3 months?  Not sure of the timeline of the development for the policy design, but a few experts provided witness testimonies during the Congressional hearing “Policy Principles for a Federal Data Privacy Framework in the United States” to help push the signing date forward to enforcing the policy in the near future; which is now.  Sure Bell Atlantic didn’t see Instagram taking over the telegram; neither did AT&T later see Facebook dialing the calls to connect millions of consumers.  Although millions of consumers use these Internet sharing platforms, only some really understand the data sharing settings on these platforms.  From our previous poll “Understanding Privacy” some consumers understood privacy, privacy settings and their protections.  However, this data could be viewed as a very small sample size to the scale and scope of consumers understanding their rights to accessing data shared on Internet platforms.

The Data Privacy Policy should be built on a solid slab of trust as its foundation.  The infrastructure should satisfy the elements of choice, and control beyond transparency, consent, and consumer data commodity for profit, suggest Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WAS) during the hearing.  Suppose the policy being built on trust for a solid foundation, would start the repair to 87 million Facebook users data being misused by Cambridge Analytical?  Furthermore, it would safeguard in the possibility for future data breaches such as Google+ and Uber along with the ability to misuse consumers personal health records, or financial statements.

Building on that foundation consumers should have control over who has access to their private data, how that private information is being used, and most importantly their right to access the data shared with the Internet service providers.  The policy must include terms of privacy violations. Whether the Federal Trade Commission or Federal Communications Commission will aide in enforcement should be determined later considering the policy will take some time.  Congress must design a strong federal framework to ensure the security of American’s private data, and promote innovation while maintaining values.  In 2009, the Privacy Act applied to personal information maintained by agencies in the executive branch of the Federal Government which includes government agencies, government controlled corporations, independent regulatory agencies, and other establishments in the executive branch.  The Privacy Act only grants rights to U.S. Citizens and to aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

Security and Sustainable Building Material

How well insulated will the Federal Data Privacy Policy be is what millions of Americans are awaiting to see.  Will the insulation consist of one uniform standard privacy setting starting from the consumer purchasing their smartphone?  Or will they still have to individually sync all email and calendar events then adjust the privacy settings? Should consumers adjust their privacy settings for each app they purchase and download to their device?  Because no system exist other than the GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act, Congress must design a system of managing consumer’s private data shared on Internet service platforms.  These Internet companies have a responsibility to ensure the security of consumers private data, along with the rights to access the data shared on the platforms.  The right of privacy is, “the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated.” 64 Fed Reg. at 82,565.

The most important provision of the Privacy Act is the right to inspect and to correct records.  The Privacy Act protects a wide range of rights about personal records maintained by federal agencies.  The 21st Century Privacy Coalition is one of the experts who provided feedback through testimony during the hearing, and has plans to help Congress push forward developing a strong framework for Federal Data Privacy.  The privacy coalition strongly supports consumers having more control over their data, and a strong Federal Privacy legislation that gives consumers more control over their data.  “It’s the right thing to do for all Americans,” Leibowitz said to the Committee at the hearing.

According to Jon Leibowitz, Co-Chairman of 21st Century Privacy Coalition, they support the statutory design of the 2012 FTC Privacy Report.  The report gave consumers control over data and more transparency with privacy by design. The report includes opt-in rights for sensitive information, and opt-out rights for non-sensitive information.  Leibowitz suggests privacy shouldn’t be about who collects consumer data, it should be about what data is collected and how it’s protected including the rights of access and deletion when appropriate. Strong protections should be backed by strong enforcement authority. These ideas were supported by the Obama Administration.

In 2009, the Obama administration’s Stimulus Bill package provided a ban on the sale of prescription information throughout the 55,000 pharmaceutics nationwide to pharmaceutical companies.  The disadvantage to this ban is that the federal government lacks clarity on the definition of privacy, which is control over your personal information.  A national framework doesn’t translate as a weaker framework; it provides consumers with certainty that they will have the same robust data protections no matter where they are in the United States.

The Internet Association was also in attendance at the Congressional hearing providing witness testimony along with a commitment to ensure the protection of consumer data shared on Internet platforms. During his testimony, Internet Associate President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Beckerman stated the Internet created unprecedented benefits for society and the state of the Art Privacy Legislation that protects all Americans in a meaningful way.  Across all industries, across technologies, from coast to coast, both on and off line is in the best interest of consumers.  “People want and expect more,” says Michael Beckerman. The Internet Association is committed to improving trust and transparency, while providing people meaningful control over their data on and off line is a top priority.

“The internet is one of our great American exports,” stated Becker during his testimony.  Data has revolutionized every aspect of our daily lives, building around shared interest.  People should have the right to know who is using their data and how. There should be no surprises, suggest Beckerman. The law should create one uniform standard that gives individuals control, makes companies accountable, and includes meaningful enforcement.  People should have access to the data they share and should be able to delete it when it’s not necessary for a service.

A lot must go into building this state of the art, strong federal Privacy Data Policy framework. The American people are not in a rush, but a prompt secure and sustainable solution is needed. It should satisfy the element to ensure the security of consumers data shared on internet service platforms.  We’re awaiting the unique design from congress.

 

Mindy Hill

Mindy Hill

Enjoys the Art of Living and Creating compelling content for years to come.

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