On May 1, 2014, the White House released a report examining how Big Data is affecting government, society and commerce. In addition to questioning longstanding tenets of privacy legislation, such as notice and consent, the report recommends (1) passing national data breach legislation, (2) revising the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”), and (3) advancing the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.
The report states that consumers have a “right to know if [their] information has been stolen or otherwise improperly exposed” and continues that data breaches are currently regulated by a “patchwork” of 47 state laws. The report recommends that Congress pass legislation providing a single data breach standard, similar to the Obama administration’s May 2011 proposal. The data breach legislation should include “reasonable time periods for notification, minimize interference with law enforcement investigations, and potentially prioritize notification about large, damaging incidents over less significant incidents.”
The report also recommends revising ECPA to confirm that online, digital content is protected in the same manner as hard copy materials. For example, the report recommends removing distinctions in ECPA that focus on how long an email has been left unread.
The White House’s Big Data report also recommends advancing the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights released by the Obama administration in February 2012. Specifically, the report calls on the Department of Commerce to seek public comment on the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, and then draft legislation for review by the President and Congress.