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Consumer Privacy Must Rise To Priority In Biden Agenda, Experts Urge

FCBA panelists discuss data privacy and consumer protection challenges for the Biden administration.

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Photo of Dona Fraser of Better Business Bureau

April 27, 2021 – Consumer data privacy needs to be a high priority for the Biden administration, according to panelists at a Monday event hosted by the Federal Communications Bar Association.

From gaming apps to social media to telehealth, consumer data is an essential component of the digital age and a core business model for tech companies. FCBA panelists discussed how to protect consumer privacy in online spaces.

With several states passing or discussing data privacy legislation, including California, Virginia and Washington, the pressure is mounting for the federal government to take action on this issue.

There is great anticipation for the Biden administration to push for federal privacy legislation, said Dona Fraser, senior vice president of privacy initiatives at the Better Business Bureau. One of the current challenges is that states are passing their own privacy laws, and tech companies need to solve the compliance issue across state lines, she said.

Melissa Maalouf, counsel at tech law firm Zwillgen, expressed similar sentiment. Companies need to navigate the patchwork of data laws in the U.S., she said. Taking all levels of government into consideration, including federal, state, and municipal, there’s over 300 laws on the books right now related to data privacy, and they’re all different, she said.

Social media and Section 230

Social media companies and internet liability provision Section 230 are in the spotlight right now, and changes to content moderation, competition among the tech platforms, and transparency in their algorithms are all issues that need to be dealt with, said Chris Lewis, CEO of Public Knowledge. Good policy is in the details, but right now it’s becoming a race to the bottom for government to handle tech policy, he said.

There’s very little government authority on broadband unless something changes, and when it comes to tech platforms and Section 230, there is no authority and no accountability, Lewis said. Artificial intelligence and algorithms are not magic, he said — they’re built with math and computers and the companies need to be held accountable for them.

Consumers use many apps of all types, many of them are games or other entertainment, but some of them serve essential functions, such as medical or telehealth, especially during a pandemic, said Brian Scarpelli of ACT, the App Association. Policy needs to be carefully drafted to ensure the protection of those important apps, based on evidence rather than partisan politics or hyperbole, he said.

Agency work on consumer privacy 

While legislation on data privacy is being considered, federal agencies are tackling consumer privacy under current law as well, such as the Federal Trade Commission’s work on COVID-19 scams.

They’re handling discriminatory actions in advertising and algorithms that use data for deceptive practices, said Frank Gorman, acting deputy director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission. But they also include other fraud cases like fake stimulus checks or medical equipment, he said.

At the Federal Communications Commission, robocalling is still the number one complaint the agency receives, said Diane Holland, legal advisor for Commissioner Geoffrey Starks’ office at the agency.

To address that problem and help protect consumers from scams, they have to use every tool in the toolbox, she said.

Reporter Tim White studied communication and political science at the University of Utah, and previously worked on Capitol Hill for a member of Congress. A native of Salt Lake City, he escapes to the Pacific Northwest as often as he can. He is passionate about politics, Star Wars, and breakfast cereal.

Cybersecurity

DOJ Official Supports Mandatory Breach Reporting

Proposed legislation would make it mandatory for companies to report cyberattacks.

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Richard Downing from the Senate judiciary committee last week

April 27, 2021 – Consumer data privacy needs to be a high priority for the Biden administration, according to panelists at a Monday event hosted by the Federal Communications Bar Association.

From gaming apps to social media to telehealth, consumer data is an essential component of the digital age and a core business model for tech companies. FCBA panelists discussed how to protect consumer privacy in online spaces.

With several states passing or discussing data privacy legislation, including California, Virginia and Washington, the pressure is mounting for the federal government to take action on this issue.

There is great anticipation for the Biden administration to push for federal privacy legislation, said Dona Fraser, senior vice president of privacy initiatives at the Better Business Bureau. One of the current challenges is that states are passing their own privacy laws, and tech companies need to solve the compliance issue across state lines, she said.

Melissa Maalouf, counsel at tech law firm Zwillgen, expressed similar sentiment. Companies need to navigate the patchwork of data laws in the U.S., she said. Taking all levels of government into consideration, including federal, state, and municipal, there’s over 300 laws on the books right now related to data privacy, and they’re all different, she said.

Social media and Section 230

Social media companies and internet liability provision Section 230 are in the spotlight right now, and changes to content moderation, competition among the tech platforms, and transparency in their algorithms are all issues that need to be dealt with, said Chris Lewis, CEO of Public Knowledge. Good policy is in the details, but right now it’s becoming a race to the bottom for government to handle tech policy, he said.

There’s very little government authority on broadband unless something changes, and when it comes to tech platforms and Section 230, there is no authority and no accountability, Lewis said. Artificial intelligence and algorithms are not magic, he said — they’re built with math and computers and the companies need to be held accountable for them.

Consumers use many apps of all types, many of them are games or other entertainment, but some of them serve essential functions, such as medical or telehealth, especially during a pandemic, said Brian Scarpelli of ACT, the App Association. Policy needs to be carefully drafted to ensure the protection of those important apps, based on evidence rather than partisan politics or hyperbole, he said.

Agency work on consumer privacy 

While legislation on data privacy is being considered, federal agencies are tackling consumer privacy under current law as well, such as the Federal Trade Commission’s work on COVID-19 scams.

They’re handling discriminatory actions in advertising and algorithms that use data for deceptive practices, said Frank Gorman, acting deputy director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission. But they also include other fraud cases like fake stimulus checks or medical equipment, he said.

At the Federal Communications Commission, robocalling is still the number one complaint the agency receives, said Diane Holland, legal advisor for Commissioner Geoffrey Starks’ office at the agency.

To address that problem and help protect consumers from scams, they have to use every tool in the toolbox, she said.

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Cybersecurity

House Energy Committee Approves Series of Cyber Bills to Improve Telecom Security

The committee approved five bills dealing with protecting networks and educating the public on cyberattacks.

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Frank Pallone Jr., D-New Jersey

April 27, 2021 – Consumer data privacy needs to be a high priority for the Biden administration, according to panelists at a Monday event hosted by the Federal Communications Bar Association.

From gaming apps to social media to telehealth, consumer data is an essential component of the digital age and a core business model for tech companies. FCBA panelists discussed how to protect consumer privacy in online spaces.

With several states passing or discussing data privacy legislation, including California, Virginia and Washington, the pressure is mounting for the federal government to take action on this issue.

There is great anticipation for the Biden administration to push for federal privacy legislation, said Dona Fraser, senior vice president of privacy initiatives at the Better Business Bureau. One of the current challenges is that states are passing their own privacy laws, and tech companies need to solve the compliance issue across state lines, she said.

Melissa Maalouf, counsel at tech law firm Zwillgen, expressed similar sentiment. Companies need to navigate the patchwork of data laws in the U.S., she said. Taking all levels of government into consideration, including federal, state, and municipal, there’s over 300 laws on the books right now related to data privacy, and they’re all different, she said.

Social media and Section 230

Social media companies and internet liability provision Section 230 are in the spotlight right now, and changes to content moderation, competition among the tech platforms, and transparency in their algorithms are all issues that need to be dealt with, said Chris Lewis, CEO of Public Knowledge. Good policy is in the details, but right now it’s becoming a race to the bottom for government to handle tech policy, he said.

There’s very little government authority on broadband unless something changes, and when it comes to tech platforms and Section 230, there is no authority and no accountability, Lewis said. Artificial intelligence and algorithms are not magic, he said — they’re built with math and computers and the companies need to be held accountable for them.

Consumers use many apps of all types, many of them are games or other entertainment, but some of them serve essential functions, such as medical or telehealth, especially during a pandemic, said Brian Scarpelli of ACT, the App Association. Policy needs to be carefully drafted to ensure the protection of those important apps, based on evidence rather than partisan politics or hyperbole, he said.

Agency work on consumer privacy 

While legislation on data privacy is being considered, federal agencies are tackling consumer privacy under current law as well, such as the Federal Trade Commission’s work on COVID-19 scams.

They’re handling discriminatory actions in advertising and algorithms that use data for deceptive practices, said Frank Gorman, acting deputy director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission. But they also include other fraud cases like fake stimulus checks or medical equipment, he said.

At the Federal Communications Commission, robocalling is still the number one complaint the agency receives, said Diane Holland, legal advisor for Commissioner Geoffrey Starks’ office at the agency.

To address that problem and help protect consumers from scams, they have to use every tool in the toolbox, she said.

Continue Reading

International

International Data Localization Laws Harm Emerging Tech Businesses

Experts advocate a new framework that better accommodates the global tech economy by removing data localization barriers.

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on

Jason Oxman, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council

April 27, 2021 – Consumer data privacy needs to be a high priority for the Biden administration, according to panelists at a Monday event hosted by the Federal Communications Bar Association.

From gaming apps to social media to telehealth, consumer data is an essential component of the digital age and a core business model for tech companies. FCBA panelists discussed how to protect consumer privacy in online spaces.

With several states passing or discussing data privacy legislation, including California, Virginia and Washington, the pressure is mounting for the federal government to take action on this issue.

There is great anticipation for the Biden administration to push for federal privacy legislation, said Dona Fraser, senior vice president of privacy initiatives at the Better Business Bureau. One of the current challenges is that states are passing their own privacy laws, and tech companies need to solve the compliance issue across state lines, she said.

Melissa Maalouf, counsel at tech law firm Zwillgen, expressed similar sentiment. Companies need to navigate the patchwork of data laws in the U.S., she said. Taking all levels of government into consideration, including federal, state, and municipal, there’s over 300 laws on the books right now related to data privacy, and they’re all different, she said.

Social media and Section 230

Social media companies and internet liability provision Section 230 are in the spotlight right now, and changes to content moderation, competition among the tech platforms, and transparency in their algorithms are all issues that need to be dealt with, said Chris Lewis, CEO of Public Knowledge. Good policy is in the details, but right now it’s becoming a race to the bottom for government to handle tech policy, he said.

There’s very little government authority on broadband unless something changes, and when it comes to tech platforms and Section 230, there is no authority and no accountability, Lewis said. Artificial intelligence and algorithms are not magic, he said — they’re built with math and computers and the companies need to be held accountable for them.

Consumers use many apps of all types, many of them are games or other entertainment, but some of them serve essential functions, such as medical or telehealth, especially during a pandemic, said Brian Scarpelli of ACT, the App Association. Policy needs to be carefully drafted to ensure the protection of those important apps, based on evidence rather than partisan politics or hyperbole, he said.

Agency work on consumer privacy 

While legislation on data privacy is being considered, federal agencies are tackling consumer privacy under current law as well, such as the Federal Trade Commission’s work on COVID-19 scams.

They’re handling discriminatory actions in advertising and algorithms that use data for deceptive practices, said Frank Gorman, acting deputy director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission. But they also include other fraud cases like fake stimulus checks or medical equipment, he said.

At the Federal Communications Commission, robocalling is still the number one complaint the agency receives, said Diane Holland, legal advisor for Commissioner Geoffrey Starks’ office at the agency.

To address that problem and help protect consumers from scams, they have to use every tool in the toolbox, she said.

Continue Reading

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