Federal Efforts In Data Privacy Move Slowly

by Natasha Singer, New York Times

socialmediaprivacy 783 x 519In February 2012, the White House introduced a blueprint for the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, intended to give Americans the ability to exercise control over what personal details companies collected from them and how the data was used.

In his introduction to the report, President Obama went further, writing that his “administration will work to advance these principles and work with Congress to put them into law.”

Four years later, however, the effort has produced few new data controls for consumers, even as advocates say the need is greater than ever because of the advent of Internet-connected technologies that collect data on people’s sleep habits, the temperature in their houses and the like.

“Why has President Obama’s proposal to establish a consumer privacy framework not moved forward?” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a research center in Washington that initially supported the administration’s effort. “It’s an important question.”

The story of how some of the country’s leading civil society advocates came to lose faith in the White House’s privacy initiative does not follow the typical plot of Washington gridlock. It is a tale of clashing visions for American society and commerce. And it provides an instructive preview of looming battles among government agencies for control over industries like drones, smartphones and gadgets yet to come.

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