President’s Big Data Review Highlights Importance of Privacy, Advocates for ECPA Reform


Today, the White House released its Big Data review report, which focused on the potential for discriminatory practices as a result of big data analytics, as well as potential legal reforms necessary to respect privacy with regards to digital data. The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) supports the report’s overall focus on preserving our privacy rights, as well as the recommendation for reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). CDT actively participated in the 90-day review process and issued the following statement in response to the report:

“The most important takeaway is that our privacy really does matter when it comes to big data. Analyzing mass amounts of personal data certainly holds great potential for innovative services and better social outcomes,” said Nuala O’Connor, CDT President.

“The report rightfully highlights the potential for limiting our choices or discriminating based on broad assumptions from a data set. A stronger focus on personal control would empower individuals and engender trust in big data applications. Accounting for privacy in the collection, analysis, and final output of data will help generate the positive solutions we all want,” O’Connor added.

CDT has long advocated for reform of the woefully outdated ECPA; this report supports that reform. “The government should have to get a warrant to access our email and other personal information stored digitally. The White House report recognizes that ECPA reform is needed to ensure that our digital lives have the same privacy protections as our physical lives. Congress should act now to pass ECPA reform legislation without any loopholes. Realizing the full potential of big data requires strong laws that ensure our privacy is being respected,” O’Connor concluded.

CDT President & CEO, Nuala O’Connor, and CDT Director of Consumer Privacy, Justin Brookman, are both available for comment.