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NTIA Seeks Input on Balancing Privacy with Data

11 Jun, 2014 By: Doug McPherson

WASHINGTON – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) wants input on how developments related to “big data” impact the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

In 2012 NTIA said that it supported the bill of rights that would incorporate fair information practices that limit companies’ ability to amass data. Now, the NTIA is seeking comments about whether that proposal should be “clarified or modified to accommodate the benefits of big data.”

Specifically, NTIA is seeking input on:

  • How the principles in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights support innovations related to big data while also responding to potential privacy risks
  • Whether a responsible use framework should be used to address the challenges posed by big data
  • Mechanisms to best address the limits of the “notice and consent” model for privacy protection noted in the big data report

John Podesta, counselor to President Obama, convened senior government officials, including U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, to conduct the wide-ranging review of big data and privacy, and the group presented its findings to the president on May 1.

“As recommended in the big data and privacy working group report, the Commerce Department is taking the lead in examining big data issues and their impact on the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and our economy,” Pritzker said. “The Obama administration takes personal privacy very seriously, and we must ensure the necessary privacy protections along with big data developments. Today’s request for comments is part of our continuing dialogue among government, business, consumers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders about maximizing the benefits and minimizing the risks of big data.”

“As the White House’s big data report notes, there are many potential societal benefits from the use of big data,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. “We are now asking the public to help us assess how big data might impact the protections called for in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.”

Privacy advocate Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, expressed concern over the NTIA’s move. He says the administration should move forward with the 2012 proposal for a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

“Nothing has really changed over the last two years, except an expansion of practices that were already in place to conduct far-reaching commercial surveillance on Americans,” he says. “It’s way overdue for the White House to send a privacy legislative proposal to Congress that would prevent the unfair and discriminatory practices now in place.”

Input may be sent via E-mail to or by mail to: NTIA, 1401 Constitution Avenue N.W., Room 4725, Attn: Privacy RFC 2014, Washington, DC 20230.

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