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White House Releases Framework for Protecting Privacy in a Networked World

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By David Hoffman, Intel's director of security policy and global privacy officer

Intel is pleased that the U.S. government has continued its valuable contributions to the privacy policy landscape by today releasing the White House’s framework for “Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World.”  This paper is a follow up to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s “green paper.”  Providing a policy environment where consumers can trust their personal information is protected is essential to the creation of a computing continuum that will enrich the lives of individuals worldwide. As we stated upon the release of the green paper, Intel continues to strongly support the Department's and Administration’s leadership in protecting privacy while at the same time promoting innovation.

We are pleased the Administration, in testimony last year, and reinforced in this paper, calls for U.S. federal privacy legislation based upon the Fair Information Practices.  Intel has long supported federal privacy legislation to ensure consumer trust in technology.  As we have discussed previously, Intel sees computing moving in a direction where an individual’s applications and data will move as that person moves through his or her day. To manage these applications and data, the individual will use a wide assortment of digital devices, including servers, laptop computers, smartphones, tablets, televisions, and handheld PCs. Thus, it is necessary individuals have trust in being able to create, process, and share all types of data, including data that may be quite sensitive, such as health and financial information. The Administration’s paper rightly recognizes that this innovation will only be possible if policymakers create a legislative framework to ensure this trust. Additionally, as we wait for the Federal Trade Commission to issue its follow-up report to the preliminary staff privacy report it issued, we hope that the FTC will follow the Administration’s lead and similarly recommend that Congress enact privacy legislation.

The Administration’s paper continues to recognize we are at a critical time in the development of computing where promoting an environment that allows for innovation is essential. Intel strongly supports the Administration’s conclusion that industry and government must work closely together to provide greater privacy protection for individuals.  The paper also correctly recognizes that privacy is highly contextual, and a “Respect for Context” principle is prominently featured in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.  This approach requires a flexible system that looks to the expectations individuals have when they use technology within a specific context.  Rather than creating detailed rules for specific technologies, we support the government’s effort to act as an “impatient convener” of industry to create best practices or codes of conduct to implement fair information practices. Non-governmental organizations and the FTC can then play the important role to verify conformance to a company’s stated practices. This type of co-regulation allows both government and industry to leverage their respective strengths and to efficiently use scarce resources.

Finally, we are pleased the Administration has again recognized the international implications of our U.S. privacy system.  For instance, we are pleased with the Department of Commerce’s progress in developing within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation a system of Cross-Border Privacy Rules. In both APEC and elsewhere, there is a growing call for not necessarily harmonized, but most certainly interoperable, privacy rules that allow for accountable cross-border flows of information while ensuring both the protection of consumers and allowing for the benefits of ecommerce.  The broad international perspective and expertise the Department brings to the privacy debate is critical, and we urge policymakers to heed their call for a coordinated government-wide approach and greater leadership on these issues.

We are pleased that the President and the Administration have rightly recognized that “privacy protections are critical to maintaining consumer trust in networked technologies,” a view we at Intel have long held.  We look forward to continued discussion and welcome your comments.