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Privacy & Data

Putting Privacy in the Commerce Department Toolbox

CDT today filed comments with the Department of Commerce (DoC) urging it to take the helm as a global leader on privacy.  In April, the Commerce Internet Policy Task Force asked for comments on a range of questions dealing with the connection between privacy and innovation and the role the department should have in promoting online privacy.

Earlier this year the State Department said the Internet would play a crucial role in U.S. foreign policy while promoting global Internet freedom.  Likewise, CDT believes the Commerce Department should incorporate privacy into its own policy toolbox.

CDT's comments ask Commerce to reaffirm that the success of American companies at home and abroad is built on the trust consumers have in the privacy and security of their online interactions.  By advocating for policies and practices that promote user privacy, DoC will be advocating for American business interests.

CDT also emphasized that global leadership on privacy will first require action at home. Unlike many other countries (and the E.U.), the U.S. still does not have a baseline consumer privacy law that provides basic protections for consumer data. CDT believes that U.S. companies will continue to be buffeted by conflicting and confusing rules – both at home and abroad – until such a law is passed that incorporates a strong set of Fair Information Practice principles.

Meanwhile, outdated laws that govern government access to data, like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, can impose unnecessary costs on service providers and make consumers and businesses more reluctant to adopt digital communication technologies. The CDT-led Digital Due Process coalition filed comments focusing specifically on the need to update laws on government access to communications.

CDT looks forward to working with the Commerce Department as it begins to put into action, both domestically and internationally, policies that support privacy and innovation.