On January 12, 2015, President Obama announced at the Federal Trade Commission several new initiatives on data security and consumer privacy as part of a weeklong focus on privacy and cybersecurity. He noted that on January 13 at the Department of Homeland Security, he would address how to improve protections against cyber attacks, and on January 14, he would address how more Americans can have access to faster and cheaper broadband Internet. He stated that the announcements he is making this week are “sneak previews” of the proposals he will make in next week’s State of the Union address.
Acknowledging the tremendous benefits and opportunities associated with the digital economy, President Obama noted that “we shouldn’t have to forfeit our basic privacy when we go online to conduct business.” Specifically, the President proposed the following four measures to protect consumers’ data security and privacy:
- Data breach notification legislation. The President will introduce legislation for a single, strong national breach notification standard that will require companies to notify their customers within 30 days of a data breach. This legislation also will close “loopholes” to enable action against criminals who are overseas.
- Improved access to credit scores. There will be enhanced and free access to a credit score early warning system that will notify consumers of fraudulent activities on their financial accounts.
- Comprehensive privacy legislation. By the end of February, the President will introduce the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, a comprehensive privacy law that includes basic principles on what data may be collected and how it may be used. President Obama noted that consumers have the right to know that when information is collected for one purpose, it will not subsequently be used for a different purpose.
- Student privacy legislation. The President will introduce the Student Digital Privacy Act, which will ensure that data collected “in the classroom” will be used only for educational purposes and not for commercial purposes, such as targeted advertising or student profiling. The proposed law will permit research to improve educational outcomes and tools.
Noting that privacy and data security should not be partisan issues, President Obama expressed optimism in the success of these initiatives. According to the President “business leaders want their privacy and their children’s privacy protected just like everybody else does. Consumer and privacy advocates also want to make sure that America keeps leading the world in technology and innovation and apps.”