White House Consumer Privacy Bill Starts an Important Conversation

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This afternoon the White House released a discussion draft of its Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act. Jules Polonetsky and Chris Wolf issued the following response:

Today’s release of the text of Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights demonstrates the U.S.’s continuing commitment to advance privacy protection for consumers.

Although the current system of FTC enforcement actions and strong sectoral laws provide important tools to address privacy harms, the ideas proposed in the bill are certain to help frame the discussion about privacy practices by companies and not-for profits in the future.  International data regulators should recognize that this bill is not a critique of the current system, but the opening of a nuanced conversation that seeks to balance benefit and risk, while being considerate of consumer rights.

The impact of the bill is not likely to be legislative, but the ideas it raises will have impact on the privacy debate.  Key concepts in the bill that will advance the privacy discussion in a very practical way include the focus on context to shape appropriate uses of data, the recognition that assessing benefit and risk is important, and the consideration of Privacy Review Boards as internal or external structures that could help assess beneficial uses of data that would otherwise be constrained by law.