Today, the President spoke at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the importance of preventing identity theft and improving consumer and student privacy. Today’s speech has been billed as a first look at a broader White House policy initiative on cybersecurity, identity theft, and privacy that will continue this week and will be included in the President’s State of the Union address to Congress on January 20th. Tomorrow, the President will highlight the work of the Department of Homeland Security and the importance of public-private collaboration on cyber threats. In the coming weeks, the White House is expected to release more information on the following policy proposals and executive actions:

  • Tackling Identity Theft. The President announced a legislative proposal, The Personal Data Notification & Protection Act. This proposal clarifies and strengthens the obligations companies have to notify customers when their personal information has been exposed, including establishing a thirty-day notification requirement from the discovery of a breach, while providing companies with the certainty of a single, national standard. The proposal also criminalizes illicit overseas trade in identities. Additionally, the White House announced that financial institutions such as JPMorganChase and Bank of America, in partnership with Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), will make credit scores available for free to their consumer card customers.
  • Student Privacy. The President announced a legislative proposal to protect student privacy, The Student Digital Privacy Act. The bill, modeled on a California statute passed last year, would prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes unrelated to their educational mission and from engaging in targeted advertising to students based on data collected in school. Additionally, the White House announced that seventy-five companies have signed a pledge to provide parents, teachers, and kids themselves with protections against misuse of their data. This pledge was led by the Future of Privacy Forum and the Software & Information Industry Association. The Department of Education will put forward model terms of service to help ensure student data is used appropriately and in accordance with a school’s educational mission.
  • Smart Grid Customer Data Privacy. The White House announced that the Department of Energy and the Federal Smart Grid Task Force are releasing a new Voluntary Code of Conduct for utilities and third parties aimed at protecting electricity customer data, including energy usage information.
  • Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. The Administration announced that by the end of February it will release a revised legislative proposal on comprehensive privacy legislation.

The myriad proposals and increased White House attention on these privacy and data security issues are expected to lead to heightened media attention and reactions by Congress. While the President’s proposals likely will not fundamentally alter the policy debate on Capitol Hill, or solve the contentious issues that have stood in the way of passage of privacy and data security legislation, they will influence certain aspects of the legislation and may prompt Congressional hearings early in the legislative session. As more information on these proposals is released, we will provide updates on this blog.

For the White House press release related to today’s announcements, click here.