President Barack Obama should take new steps to enhance consumer privacy in the age of “big data,” a White House report released Thursday recommended.
Ordered up by the President in January in the aftermath of revelations about spying by the National Security Agency and high-profile consumer data breaches, the report suggests a series of reforms to federal law to bring privacy statutes into the modern era. The review was led by Counselor to the President John Podesta and other senior officials, and makes six policy recommendations to Obama, including passing a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights—a White House policy proposal since 2012 that has not found support on Capitol Hill.
“Big data raises serious questions, too, about how we protect our privacy and other values in a world where data collection is increasingly ubiquitous and where analysis is conducted at speeds approaching real time,” Podesta said in a blog post announcing the release of the report.
In addition to the privacy bill of rights, the document repeats the White House’s 2011 call for Congress to pass a national standard of requirements for reporting data breaches. It also calls on Congress to amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to, among other things, eliminate a little-known distinction between unopened and opened email traffic, that allows emails that have been read or are more than 180 days old to be subpoenaed by law enforcement without a warrant.
There are also three recommendations that Podesta is encouraging Obama to order the federal government to take up, including extending existing privacy protections to non-U.S. citizens and people not in the country, and ensuring that data collected in schools is only used for educational purposes. Additionally, the report calls on the federal government to build up the capability to be able to spot discriminatory uses of “big data” by companies and the government. “The detailed personal profiles held about many consumers, combined with automated, algorithm-driven decision-making, could lead—intentionally or inadvertently—to discriminatory outcomes, or what some are already calling “digital redlining,” Podesta warned.
See a fact sheet from the report below: