New White House Privacy Report
Two days ago, the White House released a report on privacy: “Privacy in our Digital Lives: Protecting Individuals and Promoting Innovation.” The report summarizes things the administration has done, and lists future challenges:
Areas for Further Attention
- Technology will pose new consumer privacy and security challenges.
- Emerging technology may simultaneously create new challenges and opportunities for law enforcement and national security.
- The digital economy is making privacy a global value.
- Consumers’ voices are being heard—and must continue to be heard—in the regulatory process.
- The Federal Government benefits from hiring more privacy professionals.
- Transparency is vital for earning and retaining public trust.
- Privacy is a bipartisan issue.
I especially like the framing of privacy as a right. From President Obama’s introduction:
Privacy is more than just, as Justice Brandeis famously proclaimed, the “right to be let alone.” It is the right to have our most personal information be kept safe by others we trust. It is the right to communicate freely and to do so without fear. It is the right to associate freely with others, regardless of the medium. In an age where so many of our thoughts, words, and movements are digitally recorded, privacy cannot simply be an abstract concept in our lives; privacy must be an embedded value.
For the past 240 years, the core of our democracy—the values that have helped propel the United States of America—have remained largely the same. We are still a people founded on the beliefs of equality and economic prosperity for all. The fierce independence that encouraged us to break from an oppressive king is the same independence found in young women and men across the country who strive to make their own path in this world and create a life unique unto to themselves. So long as that independence is encouraged, so long as it is fostered by the ability to transcend past data points and by the ability to speak and create free from intrusion, the United States will continue to lead the world. Privacy is necessary to our economy, free expression, and the digital free flow of data because it is fundamental to ourselves.
Privacy, as a right that has been enjoyed by past generations, must be protected in our digital ecosystem so that future generations are given the same freedoms to engage, explore, and create the future we all seek.
I know; rhetoric is easy, policy is hard. But we can’t change policy without a changed rhetoric.
EDITED TO ADD: The document was originally on the whitehouse.gov website, but was deleted in the Trump transition. It’s now available at the Obama archives site.