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Groups, Firms Weigh In On Privacy Report Groups, Firms Weigh In On Privacy Report

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Congress

Groups, Firms Weigh In On Privacy Report

January 28, 2011

Happy Data Privacy Day! It is a day celebrated in Canada, most of Europe and the United States to raise awareness and discussion about data privacy and protection. Whether it was meant to coincide with Data Privacy Day or not, Friday is also the deadline for comments on the Commerce Department's draft privacy report.

"Data privacy day provides an opportunity to reflect on the importance of privacy policies that promote online trust and broadband use," Lawrence Strickling, administrator of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, wrote in a blog post Friday. In discussing Commerce's privacy report, he noted it "proposes an approach to privacy that can promote innovation while increasing consumer trust, including committing to baseline privacy principles and convening stakeholders to craft enforceable codes of conduct to implement those principles."

Several groups and companies have weighed in on the report released in December, which calls for the implementation of "Fair Information Privacy Principles" that would provide baseline privacy protections, proposes creation of a Privacy Policy Office within the department, and requests comment on whether Congress should implement baseline privacy legislation. The comments will be used to help craft the Obama administration's approach to privacy.

For the most part, the Commerce report was more favorably received by industry than a staff privacy report also released in December from the Federal Trade Commission, which called for more aggressive measures to protect consumer privacy online.

In responding to the Commerce report, the credit information firm Experian voiced concern about rules that might limit the sharing of information and argued in favor of self-regulation over legislation, saying such an approach is better able to evolve and respond quickly to developing technologies.

"Any privacy framework should carefully balance restrictions on the collection and sharing of third-party information with the significant benefits that these uses of information provide to consumers, businesses, and the economy at large," Experian wrote.

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