Protecting Innovation & Privacy in Big Data

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The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) recently responded to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) request for public comments on “Big Data and Consumer Privacy in the Internet Economy.”  In the request, NTIA, an agency within the Department of Commerce, posed a series of questions to stakeholders relating to big data and privacy to solicit input on challenges and possible policy solutions.

In our comments, we discuss some of the findings of the inter-agency working group on big data that delivered a report to President Obama on May 1.  ITI appreciates the report’s recognition of the many opportunities and benefits created by big data.  An important big data policy consideration identified in the report is preventing inappropriate discriminatory outcomes, and ITI agrees that this is an area that warrants further examination.

In its written submission, ITI offers a number of recommendations to address privacy in the big data context:

  • First, ITI advocates for a responsible use framework—built upon risk-based assessment and mitigation—to address privacy risks in the big data context. This type of framework, which puts greater attention on how data is used, and less on its collection, provides a mechanism to enable organizations to fully consider the privacy issues involved in decisions about data.
  • Second, ITI encourages an “accountability” approach, where companies develop and implement processes that foster compliance with their privacy-related commitments.
  • And finally, ITI advocates for a uniform national breach notification framework to allow businesses to notify consumers more efficiently when a breach of sensitive personal data occurs by easing the confusion and duplication that results from the current patchwork of state laws.

Big data offers tremendous opportunities in a variety of fields, including health care, agriculture, energy efficiency, transportation, and education.  As policymakers continue to examine big data and develop related policies, it is important that they take into account the data environment as it exists today, and recognize that this ecosystem continues to evolve.  We look forward to continuing to engage with the administration and other stakeholders to ensure that big data continues to provide consumers with benefits previously unimaginable.

ITI’s full set of comments to NTIA can be found here.

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