SANTA MONICA, CA — Consumer Watchdog today backed six broad policy recommendations outlined in the White House report on Big Data and praised the report for identifying potential dangers of discrimination and threats to privacy in what the report called “a world where data collection will be increasingly ubiquitous, multidimensional, and permanent.”
“I expected the White House team to focus on the benefits of Big Data and gloss over the very real threats to privacy and liberty it poses,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director. “Instead they clearly spelled out the dangers.”
The Big Data working group’s six policy recommendations are broad suggestions, Consumer Watchdog noted, and the real test will come in how the specifics are implemented.
“More than two years ago the White House released its Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights with great fanfare, yet little has come of it. The administration hasn’t even offered baseline privacy legislation,” said Simpson. “I hope the Big Data report means the Administration is finally serious about doing something.”
The report, Big Data: Seizing and Preserving Values said Big Data tools could:
— Alter the balance of power between government and citizen.
— Reveal intimate personal details
— Lead to discriminatory outcomes.
In comments to the working group as it was gathering information, Consumer Watchdog wrote:
“The guiding principles for governing “Big Data” are straightforward: People must be able to know what information is gathered about them, how long it is kept and for what the information will be used. They should, in fact, have control over whether their data is even collected in the first place. People should be able to correct errors in data files about them and request the deletion of data not required to complete a business transaction they initiated. Large data sets used for research purposes should be aggregate data that has been de-identified.”
Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter to the Big Data Working Group here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/whitehousebigdata033114.pdf
Here are the Big Data Working group’s six policy recommendations:
— Advance the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights because consumers deserve clear, understandable, reasonable standards for how their personal information is used in the big data era.
–Pass National Data Breach Legislation that provides for a single national data breach standard, along the lines of the Administration's 2011 Cybersecurity proposal.
— Extend Privacy Protections to non-U.S. Persons because privacy is a worldwide value that should be reflected in how the federal government handles personally identifiable information from non-U.S. citizens.
— Ensure Data Collected on Students in School is used for Educational Purposes to drive better learning outcomes while protecting students against their data being shared or used inappropriately.
— Expand Technical Expertise to Stop Discrimination because the federal government should build the technical expertise to be able to identify practices and outcomes facilitated by big data analytics that have a discriminatory impact on protected classes.
— Amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to ensure the standard of protection for online, digital content is consistent with that afforded in the physical world—including by removing archaic distinctions between email left unread or over a certain age.
Read the White House Big Data Report here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/privacy-final.pdf
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