Open Technology Institute, Privacy Advocates Ask White House to Improve Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act

White House discussion draft is a good start but isn't strong enough.
Press Release
March 3, 2015

Washington, DC - This morning, New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI), along with 13 other privacy advocates, sent an open letter to the White House enumerating several concerns with the discussion draft of the Consumer Privacy Bills of Rights Act, which the White House released on Friday afternoon.

In the letter, privacy advocates thank the administration for incorporating a number of improvements over an earlier draft some were allowed to see a week prior to release. “Nevertheless,” the letter explains, “substantial changes must still be made for the legislation to effectively protect Americans’ right to privacy.” Among the remaining problems with the draft are overly broad exceptions to the protections the bill would create, a framework that would task the Federal Trade Commission with review of what could be hundreds of proposed “Codes of Conduct,” and a provision that would invalidate numerous state-level privacy laws without replacing them with protections that are clearly stronger.

The following can be attributed to Laura Moy, Senior Policy Counsel for New America’s Open Technology Institute:

“In an age of ever-increasing collection of personal data that falls outside the average consumer’s knowledge or control, Americans urgently need meaningful comprehensive privacy protections. Disappointingly, the White House’s proposal as currently written wouldn’t fulfill that need.

“We applaud the White House’s commitment to protecting consumer privacy, and are grateful that in the final week leading up to release of the draft, the administration demonstrated a willingness to engage with privacy advocates. Most importantly, at the urging of OTI and others, the administration removed a deeply troubling provision that would have allowed telecommunications carriers to excuse themselves from the consumer privacy protections of the Communications Act by opting in to the self-regulatory framework set forth in the bill.

“However, the consensus among privacy advocates is that the White House’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act still contains a number of critical shortcomings. With more time and more input from stakeholders, we believe these problems can be addressed. We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to develop comprehensive privacy legislation that establishes meaningful baseline privacy protections for consumers.”

OTI was joined on the letter by Center for Democracy and Technology, Center for Digital Democracy, Alvaro Bedoya of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, Common Sense Media, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Frontier Foundation, National Consumers League, Public Knowledge, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and U.S. PIRG.

Expert Contact:

Laura Moy
Senior Policy Counsel, New America's Open Technology Institute
(202) 596-3346