On April 20, 2010, the Department of Commerce (“DOC”) issued a Notice of Inquiry to solicit public feedback “on the impact of current privacy laws in the United States and around the world on the pace of innovation in the information economy.” The aim is to understand “whether current privacy laws serve consumer interests and fundamental democratic values.” To this end, the DOC poses a number of questions, including:

  • Is the notice and choice approach to consumer privacy outmoded? Would consumers be better served by a “use-based” model?
  • How does compliance with myriad state privacy laws affect business activities and online operations?
  • How do international privacy laws and regulations impact global Internet commerce, compliance costs, product development process and Internet users?
  • What jurisdictional conflicts do companies and regulators face as a result of privacy laws? What is their impact on trade and foreign investment?
  • How does the U.S. privacy framework affect business innovation, accountability and compliance related to the use of personal information?
  • What is the state of the development, use and acceptance of privacy-related technologies?
  • How do privacy laws impact startup ventures and small and medium-sized entities?  

The DOC plans to issue a report based on an analysis of public feedback it receives. According to a DOC spokesperson, the Notice of Inquiry is expected to be published in the Federal Register on April 23, 2010. Hunton & Williams’ Centre for Information Policy Leadership will be submitting comments.

On April 16, we reported that the DOC will be holding a public meeting on May 7, 2010, to listen to stakeholders’ views on privacy policy and innovation in the United States.