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After multiple recent data security breaches, The White House and the Commerce Department are teaming up to craft new policies to protect consumers’ privacy.
The Commerce department is meeting up with large, data-based companies such as Facebook, Alphabet, and Comcast Corp as it looks to create new policies that protect consumers.
Data privacy has become an increasingly important issue over the last few years, spurred by the massive data breaches of Facebook this year and Yahoo last year.
Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, said earlier this year that the personal information of about 70 million U.S. users was improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. U.S. lawmakers have also demanded answers from Facebook about the data it shared with four Chinese companies. Yahoo said in 2017 that all 3 billion of its accounts were hacked in a 2013 data theft, while other large data breaches have been reported in recent years by Equifax Inc, Target Corp and Home Depot Inc.
David Redl, a senior U.S. Commerce Department official who oversees the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said in a speech on Friday to the Internet Governance Forum USA in Washington that the administration recently “began holding stakeholder meetings to identify common ground and formulate core, high-level principles on data privacy.”
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said the administration, through the White House National Economic Council, “aims to craft a consumer privacy protection policy that is the appropriate balance between privacy and prosperity… We look forward to working with Congress on a legislative solution consistent with our overarching policy.”
According to the report, Redl stated that a government survey revealed that over 75 percent of Americans that use the internet are worried about privacy and security.
More than 20 meetings have been held, with companies such as Facebook, Google, AT&T, and Comcast. The administration, said Redl in the speech, wants to publish and seek comment on “high-level principles” to create a nationwide data privacy plan.
The administration hopes to follow in the footsteps of California and the European Union, who have already created data privacy laws.
In May, EU privacy regulations went into effect, forcing companies to be more protective with how they handle customer data.
The European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the bloc’s patchwork of rules dating back to 1995 and heralds, an era where breaking privacy laws can result in fines of up to 4 percent of global revenue or 20 million euros ($23.5 million), whichever is higher, as opposed to a few hundred thousand euros.
In June, California Governor Jerry Brown signed data privacy legislation aimed at giving consumers more control over how companies collect and manage their personal information, however the rules are not as stringent as the GDPR.
Under the law, large companies (those with data on more than 50,000 people) would be required to let consumers view the data they have collected on them, request deletion of data, and opt out of having the data sold to third parties, starting in 2020.
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