President Obama recently spoke in front of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), discussing the pending Student Data Privacy Act and Personal Data Notification Updates. Edith Ramirez, FTC Chairwoman, introduced the POTUS and reiterated the FTC’s commitment to protecting the rights of consumers, regardless of whether business is done online or in physical establishments. According to Ramirez, consumer privacy is a top concern of the FTC. This re-dedication comes with perfect timing considering the slew of 2014 hacks and security breaches.
For President Obama, this goes hand in hand with facing challenges in the digital world, such as the Healthcare.gov website’s many hurdles in the past year. Before making the official announcement of new acts, the President Obama also noted his goals of economic growth, creating jobs, and overall prosperity within the digital economy. “As we’ve all been reminded over the past year, including the hack of Sony, this extraordinary interconnection creates enormous opportunities but also creates enormous vulnerabilities for us as a nation and for our economy and individual families.”
President Obama announced, “This week, I’m laying out some new proposals on how we can keep seizing the possibilities of an information age while protecting the security and prosperity and values that we all cherish. Today I’m focusing on how we can better protect American consumers from identity theft and ensure our privacy including for our children at school.” If fully put into effect, these new regulations could aid in security breach fallout and hopefully prevent then in 2015. Last year was a seeming free for all for hackers, ranging from the Kmart to JP Morgan breaches.
The following day, Obama talked with the Department of Homeland Security regarding means for the government to work in tandem with the private sector in order to defend against future cyberattacks. He also has engagements in Iowa to talk about getting more affordable, quicker broadband for consumers. However, it’s important to note that IT experts agree that most of these hacks were likely preventable with something as simple as two-factor authentication.
A troubling state
According to President Obama, hackers stealing information is getting more and more common. For the US, billions of dollars are lost—with the POTUS mentioning studies which show 90 percent of Americans feel as if they don’t have control over their own personal data. In fact, more than 100 million residents experienced personal information vulnerability in 2014 breaches. The new legislation promises “single, strong, national standard” guidelines so that consumers are notified if their data has been breached. However, since states have various laws, it’s made things confusing.
What’s known so far is that companies will not be required to tell customers of a breach within a 30-day window. Current legal loopholes will close, allowing police to prosecute hackers more easily. This streamlining will be in effect even if the cyberattacks come from overseas. Already, many companies have been acknowledged for giving consumers free credit reports, which is often where identity theft is first spotted.
A Valentine worth loving
The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights goes into effect in February, right in time for Valentine’s Day. There will be guarantees that data is safely stored and used only for reasons dictated when consumers shared it. There will be additional legislation for children’s privacy. There’s also the Student Digital Privacy Act, which promises, “The data collected on students in the classroom should only be used for educational purposes, to teach our children, not to market to our children. We want to prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes other than education.” Some states like California already have similar laws, as does the European Union.
Of course, supporting the latest technology in this process is also a top concern. President Obama wants to avoid the same issues the EU dealt with, which stemmed from lack of support, direction, and IT training.