Published: February 2014

In support of public comments on Big Data and privacy rights

In response to the President’s plan to conduct a comprehensive review of Big Data and The Future of Privacy, Consumer Action joined a letter urging the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to solicit public comments as a means to encourage public participation in the development of important data privacy policy.

The President recently gave a speech on National Security Adminstration reform, during which he announced a comprehensive review of Big Data and its implications for privacy. In order to allow meaningful public participation in real world big data privacy implications, a group of privacy and consumer groups sent a letter asking the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to take public comments.

The use of personal data by large commercial entities and the bulk collection of personal information puts consumers at an ever-increasing risk, said the groups. As President Obama stated when he proposed the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights in 2012, “Never has privacy been more important than today . . . So, it is incumbent on us to do what we have done throughout history: apply our timeless privacy values to the new technologies and circumstances of our times."

The coalition urged the OSTP to consider a broad range of big data privacy issues, including but not limited to:

  1. What potential harms arise from big data collection and how are these risks currently addressed?
  2. What are the legal frameworks currently governing big data, and are they adequate?
  3. How could companies and government agencies be more transparent in the use of big data, for example, by publishing algorithms?
  4. What technical measures could promote the benefits of big data while minimizing the privacy risks?
  5. What experience have other countries had trying to address the challenges of big data?
  6. What future trends concerning big data could inform the current debate?

Consumers and consumer advocates can contribute the most valuable information to the OSTP’s review, since it is their information that is being collected and their privacy and their future that is at stake. We encourage a public comments process to begin as soon as possible.

Lead Organization

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

Other Organizations

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) | American Association of Law Libraries | American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression | American Civil Liberties Union | American Library Association | Association of Research Libraries | Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School | Center for Democracy & Technology | Center for Digital Democracy | Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights | Center for Media Justice | Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) | Common Sense Media | Consumer Action |
Consumer Federation of California |
Consumer Watchdog |
Electronic Frontier Foundation |
Free Press Government Accountability Project | Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) | Open Technology Institute of the New American Foundation | Patient Privacy Rights | Privacy Journal | Privacy Rights Clearinghouse | U.S. Public Policy Council of the Association for Computing Machinery

More Information

To read the letter, please click here.

For more information, please visit EPIC's website.

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