U.S. Department of Commerce Advances Privacy Discussion

By David Hoffman, Intel’s director of security policy and global privacy officer

Intel is pleased that the U.S. Department of Commerce today, with the release of its “green paper”has made a valuable contribution to the discussion about how best to protect consumer privacy. We believe that providing a policy environment where consumers can trust that their information is protected is essential to the creation of a computing continuum with robust security. Intel strongly supports the Department’s leadership in protecting privacy while at the same time promoting U.S. innovation.

The Department, under the leadership of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the International Trade Administration, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, has done an excellent job of soliciting a wide array of stakeholder views and coming to an informed set of preliminary conclusions. Intel is pleased that the Department’s green paper supports the adoption of the full set of fair information practices. Intel additionally has advocated for federal legislation that provides strong baseline protections for data but also is flexible enough to adapt to each business’s individual circumstances.

The Department’s paper wisely recognizes that we are at a critical time in the development of computing where promoting an environment that allows for innovation is essential. As we have discussed previously, Intel sees computing moving in a direction where an individual’s applications and data will move as that person moves through his or her day. To manage these applications and data, the individual will use a wide assortment of digital devices, including servers, laptop computers, smartphones, tablets, televisions, and handheld PCs. Thus, it is necessary that individuals have trust in being able to create, process, and share all types of data, including data that may be quite sensitive, such as health and financial information. The Department’s paper rightly recognizes that this innovation will only be possible if policymakers create a framework to ensure this trust.

Intel strongly supports the Department’s conclusion that industry and government must work closely together to provide greater privacy protection for individuals. Rather than creating detailed rules for specific technologies, government instead should act as an “impatient convener” of industry to create best practices to implement fair information practices. Non-governmental organizations can then play the important role to verify best practice conformance. This type of co-regulation allows both government and industry to leverage their respective strengths and to efficiently use scarce resources.

Finally, we are pleased that the Department has recognized the international implications of our U.S. privacy system.

The Department of Commerce has long been a leader in global privacy issues. For instance, the Department has made great progress in developing within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperationa system of Cross-Border Privacy Rules that would ensure accountable cross-border flows of information while ensuring both the protection of consumers and allowing for the benefits of ecommerce. The broad international perspective and expertise that the Department brings to the privacy debate is critical, and we urge policymakers to heed their call for a coordinated government-wide approach and greater U.S. leadership on these issues.

We look forward to continued discussion and welcome your comments.