USA: White Paper on Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World

On 23 February 2012, the Obama administration released the white paper "Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy". the white paper proposes an elaborate framework for protecting privacy in the digital age.

The framework set forth in the white paper acknowledges the existing framework in the United States effectively addressing some privacy issues, but expresses the view that additional protections are necessary to preserve consumer trust. The Administration’s framework consists of four key elements:

  • a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights,
  • a multistakeholder process to specify how the principles in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights apply in
    particular business contexts,
  • effective enforcement and
  • and a commitment to increase interoperability with the privacy frameworks of our international partners.

1. A Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

The white paper sets forth a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights that provides a baseline of clear protections for consumers and greater certainty for companies. The Administration aims to encourage stakeholders to implement the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights through codes of conduct and will work with Congress to enact these rights through legislation. At its heart are comprehensive, globally recognized Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs) including specifically these seven issues:

  • Individual Control: Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data companies collect from them and how they use it.
  • Transparency: Consumers have a right to easily understandable and accessible information about privacy and security practices.
  • Respect for Context: Consumers have a right to expect that companies will collect, use, and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data.
  • Security: Consumers have a right to secure and responsible handling of personal data.
  • Access and Accuracy: Consumers have a right to access and correct personal data in usable formats, in a manner that is appropriate to the sensitivity of the data and the risk of adverse consequences to consumers if the data is inaccurate.
  • Focused Collection: Consumers have a right to reasonable limits on the personal data that
    companies collect and retain.
  • Accountability: Consumers have a right to have personal data handled by companies with
    appropriate measures in place to assure they adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

2. Fostering Multistakeholder Processes

The white paper outlines a multistakeholder process to produce enforceable codes of conduct that implement the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. The Administration will convene open, transparent forums in which stakeholders who share an interest in specific markets or business contexts will work toward consensus on appropriate, legally enforceable codes of conduct. Private sector participation will be voluntary and companies ultimately will choose whether to adopt a given code of conduct. The participation of a broad group of stakeholders, including consumer groups and privacy advocates, will help to ensure that codes of conduct lead to privacy solutions that consumers can easily use and understand.

3. Strengthening FTC Enforcement

FTC enforcement is critical to ensuring that companies are accountable for adhering to their privacy commitments. Enforcement is also critical to ensuring that responsible companies are not disadvantaged by competitors who would play by different rules. As part of consumer data privacy legislation, the Administration encourages Congress to provide the FTC (and State Attorneys General) with specific authority to enforce the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

4. Improving Global Interoperability

The white paper embraces the goal of increased international interoperability as a means to provide consistent, low-barrier rules for personal data in the user-driven and decentralized Internet environment. The two principles underlying this approach to interoperability are:

  • Mutual recognition depends on effective enforcement and well-defined accountability mechanisms. Multistakeholder processes can provide scalable, flexible means of developing codes of conduct that simplify companies’ compliance obligations.
  • Enforcement cooperation helps to ensure that countries are able to protect their citizens’ rights when personal data crosses national boundaries.


White Paper "Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy" of 23 February 2012

Verlag Dr. Otto Schmidt vom 21.08.2012 14:59

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