IAB Responds to DOC Green Paper on Privacy

December 16, 2010

The IAB welcomes today's release of the Department of Commerce's green paper, Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework, addressing the key privacy issues impacting technological innovation, global competitiveness, job creation, and economic growth. We are gratified by the report's recognition that advertising is a key driver of the global information economy, and the United States continues to be the worldwide leader in this ecosystem.

The green paper is another important step in what has been an inclusive, productive process to develop the Administration's strategy for increasing consumer online privacy, while balancing the realities of our national economy. It provides vital support for industry self regulation. The Department of Commerce's recognition that these efforts can be an effective means for increasing transparency around data practices and empowering consumers with a comprehensive, easy-to-use opt-out mechanism is key, given other recent reports. Increasing consumer confidence in the Internet is a common goal. We agree that supporting these industry codes in a timely fashion is critical, and our cross-industry coalition looks forward to working with the Administration to ensure our program is both robust and enforceable.

In addition, we support the call to create a privacy policy office within the Department of Commerce and believe this office could set the table for a broader group of interested parties—from industry groups to privacy advocates—to meet and engage in a productive dialogue on how we can collectively advance consumer privacy. There is a great deal of work to be done in this area, but we see today's report as a significant step in the right direction.

Briefly, the Department of Commerce's green paper calls for:

  • Enhanced consumer trust online through recognition of revitalized Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs). It recommends that the U.S. Government recognize a full set of FIPPs as a foundation for commercial data privacy.
  • Encouraging the development of voluntary, enforceable privacy codes of conduct leveraging innovation and expertise in the private sector to develop trustworthy privacy practices that respond to current risks in a manner that fits with evolving business models. To this end, it recommends establishing a Privacy Policy Office (PPO) in the Department of Commerce.
  • Encouraging global interoperability. Given the U.S. lead in the Internet industry around the world, there is an urgent need to renew our commitment to leadership in the global privacy policy debate to promote low-friction, cross-border data flow through increased global interoperability of privacy frameworks.
  • Ensuring nationally consistent security breach notifications laws. The Department of Commerce recommends the consideration of a federal commercial data security breach notification law that sets national standards, addresses how to reconcile inconsistent state laws and authorizes enforcement by state authorities.
  • Reviewing the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). The Administration should review ECPA, with a view to addressing privacy protection in cloud computing and location-based services.

The full report is available here.

For specific questions on the Department of Commerce’s green paper, contact Mike Zaneis, SVP & General Counsel, IAB, at [email protected].