CDT Proposes New Federal Privacy Framework for the Digital Age

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Brock N. Meeks
Director of Communications
brock@cdt.org
(202) 637-9800 ex. 114
(703) 989-3547 (cell)

CDT Proposes New Federal Privacy Framework for the Digital Age

WASHINGTON - In an effort to update the federal government's decades-old
guidelines for handling citizens' personal information, the Center for
Democracy & Technology (CDT) today proposed a sweeping new federal
privacy framework designed to respond to the realities of the digital
age.

The E-Privacy Act Amendments of 2009 propose a host of new
initiatives - including the creation of a new government Chief Privacy
Officer - and recommend significant amendments to two existing laws:
the Privacy Act of 1974 and the E-Government Act of 2002. CDT's
recommendations come on the heels of a report by the federally
appointed Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board (ISPAB)
calling for an update to federal privacy standards in light of new
technologies.

"The Privacy Act has held up well over the past 35 years," said CDT
Vice President Ari Schwartz. "We are suggesting changes to insure that
it can last another 35 despite the strains that are showing from the
advent of a range of new technologies that threaten to undermine the
basis of the protections that have been put in place."

The ISPAB recommendations
call for substantial amendments to the Privacy and E-Government Acts;
systemic improvements in governmental privacy leadership; and other
technology-specific policy rules limiting how the government collects
and uses personally identifiable information.

The E-Privacy Act Amendments of 2009 address many of the issues raised in the report. Recommendations include:

  • Creating a federal Chief Privacy Officer
  • Installing chief privacy officers (CPOs) at all major agencies
  • nsuring that Data Mining techniques are covered by the Privacy Act
  • Strengthening and standardizing privacy notices including "privacy impact assessments"

"Because they must collect and use so much personal information,
government agencies face unique privacy challenges," Schwartz said.
"But government also has a unique opportunity to lead by example, by
establishing strong, consistent rules that protect citizens without
harming the government's ability to operate," Schwartz said.

CDT also is encouraging the public's participation via an
interactive, online experiment at drafting legislation. For the first
time the private process of drafting legislation by Washington
"insiders," will be opened to the public for inspection and comment
before that legislation is submitted to Congress. A "wiki" has been set
up that allows anyone to read any part of the bill, change the
language, provide feedback or simply open a discussion on any provision
of the bill. CDT will edit and moderate this open process and, if
appropriate, incorporate suggestions in the final bill it submits to
Congress.

 

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The Center for Democracy and Technology works to promote democratic values and constitutional liberties in the digital age. With expertise in law, technology, and policy, CDT seeks practical solutions to enhance free expression and privacy in global communications technologies. CDT is dedicated to building consensus among all parties interested in the future of the Internet and other new communications media.

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