Reuters, citing two officials, reported late last week that with massive data breaches becoming more common, protecting consumers’ data privacy has become a top issue. In the wake of Facebook’s data scandal in which now-defunct political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica accessed the data on 87 million users without their consent, there have been Congressional hearings focused on data breaches and how better to protect consumers’ data from hackers. But it’s not only Facebook that has been part of data breach scandals. In 2017, 3 billion Yahoo account holders’ information was hacked, while the data on millions of Equifax customers was compromised in the fall. Target and Home Depot have also been the victims of hackers.
According to Reuters, on Friday (July 27) David Redl, a senior U.S. Commerce Department official who oversees the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said in a speech to the Internet Governance Forum USA that President Donald Trump’s Administration has “began holding stakeholder meetings to identify common ground and formulate core, high-level principles on data privacy.” Meanwhile, Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman, told Reuters the goal is to “craft a consumer privacy protection policy that is the appropriate balance between privacy and prosperity. … We look forward to working with Congress on a legislative solution consistent with our overarching policy.”
According to the report, Redl said a government survey revealed that three-quarters of American households that use the Internet have real concerns about privacy and security. A person briefed on the matter told Reuters that more than 20 meetings have been held — including with Facebook, Google, AT&T, Comcast and trade associations. The administration, said Redl in the speech, wants to publish and seek comment on “high-level principles” to create a nationwide data privacy plan. Jose Castaneda, a spokesman for the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents major tech companies, expressed praise for the Commerce Department’s moves, reported Reuters. “The United States has an opportunity to create a new, best-in-class privacy paradigm for the digital economy as well as avoid the creation of a patchwork of laws that would impede innovation,” he said.