On February 5 the White House big data and privacy working group released an “Interim Progress Report” (hereinafter “the Interim Report”) summarizing its “progress in furthering the majority of the recommendations made” in its May’s 2014 report, “Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values” (hereinafter “the Big Data Report”), discussed here. The Big Data Report followed President Obama’s call “to explore how [big data is] changing our economy, our government, and our society,” and its “implications on personal privacy.” While much of The Big Data Report emphasized the societal benefits of big data (e.g., improving the economy, education, health and energy efficiency), the working group found that “absent strong social norms and a responsive policy and legal framework,” personal privacy may be difficult to protect with technological advances alone. To that end, the Big Data Report recommended 6 policy initiatives “deserving prompt action:”
- Advance the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights (“CPBR”), a framework that the White House first proposed in 2012 to give consumers greater control over the collection and use of their personal information by businesses and other organizations;
- Pass National Data Breach Legislation, to provide a single national data breach standard;
- Ensure Data Collected on Students in Schools is used for Educational Purposes;
- Expand Technical Expertise to Stop Discriminatory Impacts (resulting from big data analytics);
- Extend Privacy Protections to non-U.S. Persons; and
- Amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (and, by extension, the Stored Communications Act), in order to bring the 1986 statute in line with the rapid growth of technology and the prevalence of email communications and digital storage. For example, the statute currently permits warrantless searches of email stored on a service provider’s system for more than 180 days.