Government and Tech Leaders at CompTIA DC Fly-In Agree: Time Is Now for Federal Privacy Legislation

Innovative new products such as wearable devices and smart home devices allow us to better track our health, enhance the security of our homes, and reduce energy consumption. But questions about who should have access to the data these products collect, what it’s being used for, and how consumers give consent are at the center of one of our nation’s most critical policy debates.

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Consumers deserve transparency and protections to ensure their personal information is not being used in harmful ways, but legislators must also strike the right balance to preserve America’s innovative spirit.

CompTIA’s 2019 DC Fly-In brought together leaders from the tech industry, government and public interest space to discuss why the U.S. should act swiftly to pass federal privacy legislation and where there’s common agreement between interested parties. 

The panel was moderated by Matthew Starr – Director of Public Advocacy at CompTIA – and included:

  • Chris Calabrese, Vice President for Policy, Center for Democracy & Technology
  • Travis Hall, Telecommunications Policy Specialist, (OPAD), (NTIA), U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Yael Weinman, Associate General Counsel, Privacy, Verizon

Check out a few key takeaway from the discussion:

States are Putting on the Pressure    

Following implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, California passed a data privacy law in 2018 that establishes new rules around notices and transparency of data collection and the right of consumers to request certain information be deleted. California has long been a leader in the tech world, so panelists said it’s no surprise that many states are thinking about following suit with data privacy proposals of their own. The potential for states to take action this year is putting pressure on the federal government to take the lead in setting a regulatory framework. 

The Time for Federal Action is Now

With GDPR in Europe and new privacy laws in Brazil and California, companies are now facing a patchwork of state privacy laws along with developing international patchwork. Panelists discussed the major compliance burden this puts on businesses and negative impact on consumers. This makes it more urgent than ever for Congress to take the critical next steps in passing comprehensive federal privacy legislation.

Consensus Around Key Principles

While there are some disagreements about what national privacy legislation would entail, there are several key areas where industry, consumers, and policymakers agree. This includes for companies to adopt safeguards to ensure the information they gather is secured, build privacy and security protections into their products at the development stage, and provide easily accessible and understandable information to consumers about the data they are collecting and how it’s being used. Panelists also emphasized that companies should take proactive steps to adopt these measures and publish privacy principles of their own rather than waiting on government to take action.

Check out our blog to see what tech and government leaders had to say about other trends in tech policy at the 2019 CompTIA DC Fly-In .

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