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The White House Releases Report on Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World

The White House announced today a long awaited report on “Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World:  A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy.”  The report is “part of a comprehensive blueprint to improve consumers’ privacy protections and ensure that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth,” according to a statement from The White House.

Among the primary recommendations in the report is a call for a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights to provide a baseline of clear protections for consumers and greater certainty for businesses.  The rights include:

  • Individual Control
  • Transparency
  • Respect for Context
  • Security
  • Access and Accuracy
  • Focused Collection
  • Accountability

The other recommendations include:  1) a stakeholder-driven process to specify how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights apply in particular business contexts; 2) strong enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC); and 3) greater interoperability between the United States’ privacy framework and those of international partners.

Although the impact on institutions of higher education is unclear, it is expected that both academic experts as well as higher education sector representatives will want to engage with the government and private sector to develop more specific practices to implement the general principles in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, especially in light of the wide range of inno­vative uses of personal data at colleges and universities.   In fact, the Report invites broad participation:  “The Administration encourages individual companies, industry groups, privacy advocates, consumer groups, crime victims, academics, international partners, State Attorneys General, Federal civil and criminal law enforcement representatives, and other relevant groups to participate in multistakeholder processes to develop codes of conduct that implement these general principles.” (emphasis added)

EDUCAUSE will continue to monitor developments and work with other higher education stakeholders to explore next steps.

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