Developing the Administration's Approach to Consumer Privacy, 48600-48603 [2018-20941]

Download as PDF 48600 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 187 / Wednesday, September 26, 2018 / Notices Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 150 hours. Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0 in capital and reporting/ recordkeeping costs. IV. Request for Comments Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record. Dated: September 20, 2018. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer. [FR Doc. 2018–20850 Filed 9–25–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–JE–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Telecommunications and Information Administration [Docket No. 180821780–8780–01] RIN 0660–XC043 Developing the Administration’s Approach to Consumer Privacy National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice; request for public comments. AGENCY: On behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is requesting comments on ways to advance consumer privacy while protecting prosperity and innovation. NTIA is seeking public comments on a proposed approach to this task that lays out a set of user-centric privacy outcomes that underpin the protections that should be produced by any Federal actions on consumer-privacy policy, and a set of high-level goals that describe the daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:21 Sep 25, 2018 Jkt 244001 outlines of the ecosystem that should be created to provide those protections. DATES: Comments must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on October 26, 2018. ADDRESSES: Written comments identified by Docket No. 180821780– 8780–01 may be submitted by email to privacyrfc2018@ntia.doc.gov. Comments submitted by email should be machinereadable and should not be copyprotected. Written comments also may be submitted by mail to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 4725, Attn: Privacy RFC, Washington, DC 20230. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Travis Hall, Telecommunications Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 4725, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: 202–482–3522; email: thall@ntia.doc.gov. For media inquiries: Anne Veigle, Director, Office of Public Affairs, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 4897, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482–7002; email: press@ntia.doc.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background The U.S. Department of Commerce (Department) requests comment on ways to advance consumer privacy while protecting prosperity and innovation. Every day, individuals interact with an array of products and services, many of which have become integral to their daily lives. Often, especially in the digital environment, these products and services depend on the collection, retention, and use of personal data about their users. Users must therefore trust that organizations will respect their interests, understand what is happening with their personal data, and decide whether they are comfortable with this exchange. Trust is at the core of the United States’ privacy policy formation. Through this Request for Comment (RFC), the Administration will determine the best path toward protecting individual’s privacy while fostering innovation. The time is ripe for this Administration to provide the leadership needed to ensure that the United States remains at the forefront of enabling innovation with strong privacy protections. A growing number of PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 foreign countries, and some U.S. states, have articulated distinct visions for how to address privacy concerns, leading to a nationally and globally fragmented regulatory landscape. Such fragmentation naturally disincentivizes innovation by increasing the regulatory costs for products that require scale. The Administration hopes to articulate a renewed vision, one that reduces fragmentation nationally and increases harmonization and interoperability nationally and globally. Further, changes in the way personal information is used by organizations, and how users interact with the products and services with which they frequently engage, have increased the belief that users are losing control over their personal information. As seen in data collected by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), at least a third of online households have been deterred from certain forms of online activity, such as financial transactions, due to privacy and security concerns.1 The Administration takes these concerns seriously and believes that users should be able to benefit from dynamic uses of their information, while still expecting organizations will appropriately minimize risks to users’ privacy. Riskbased flexibility is therefore at the heart of the approach the Administration is requesting comment on in this RFC. We are mindful of the potential impact of a solution on small and mid-sized businesses, and we will be looking for solutions that support their continued ability to innovate and support economic growth. The United States has a history of providing strong protections for privacy dating back to 1789, with the drafting of our Bill of Rights, including the Fourth Amendment. The United States also has been a leader in developing privacy norms, be it through the development of what ultimately became known as the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs) in the 1970’s, or through the strongest privacy enforcement regime in the world. For users of products and services in several sectors (e.g., healthcare, education, financial services), specific laws cover how organizations handle personal information. Where no sector-specific laws apply, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the authority to ensure that organizations are not deceiving consumers or operating unfairly. In all respects, the United 1 NTIA Blog, ‘‘Most Americans Continue to Have Privacy and Security Concerns, NTIA Survey Finds’’ (Aug. 20, 2018), https://www.ntia.doc.gov/ blog/2018/most-americans-continue-have-privacyand-security-concerns-ntia-survey-finds. E:\FR\FM\26SEN1.SGM 26SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 187 / Wednesday, September 26, 2018 / Notices States has successfully investigated and taken enforcement actions against organizations that violate these existing Federal laws. This RFC asks how best to strengthen the protections users currently enjoy; it does not propose changing current sectoral federal laws.2 This RFC is the outcome of an interagency process led by the National Economic Council (NEC) of the United States. NTIA has worked in coordination with the International Trade Administration (ITA) to ensure consistency with international policy objectives, and in parallel with the work of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in developing a voluntary risk-based Privacy Framework as an enterprise risk management tool for organizations. In developing this RFC, the Department conducted significant outreach to a diverse set of individuals and organizations, including a broad range of industries, academics, and civil society organizations. These meetings helped to shape this Administration’s proposed general approach to privacy, described below. This approach is divided into two parts: (1) A set of user-centric privacy outcomes that underpin the protections that should be produced by any Federal actions on consumer-privacy policy, and (2) a set of high-level goals that describe the outlines of the ecosystem that should be created to provide those protections. This Administration is approaching this subject with humility, an understanding of the complexity of the issues at hand, and a commitment to a transparent process. As such, this RFC does not call for the creation of a statutory standard. Rather, it is looking to commenters to respond with details as to how these privacy outcomes and goals can be achieved. These comments will help to inform future Administration policy, actions, and engagement on consumer privacy.3 daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES A. Privacy Outcomes Principle-based approaches to privacy, particularly when written to be operationalized, often encapsulate the desired outcome and the means used to achieve this outcome. For example, the consent of an informed user is the endgoal of most approaches to consumer privacy, but in order to create legal 2 These sectoral laws include, but are not limited to, the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. 3 This Request for Comment is focused solely on private collection, use, storage, and sharing of personal data. It does not address lawful government access to such data. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:21 Sep 25, 2018 Jkt 244001 clarity, this principle is implemented by mandating notice and choice. To date, such mandates have resulted primarily in long, legal, regulator-focused privacy policies and check boxes, which only help a very small number of users who choose to read these policies and make binary choices. The Administration is instead proposing that discussion of consumer privacy in the United States refocus on the outcomes of organizational practices, rather than on dictating what those practices should be. The desired outcome is a reasonably informed user, empowered to meaningfully express privacy preferences, as well as products and services that are inherently designed with appropriate privacy protections, particularly in business contexts in which relying on user intervention may be insufficient to manage privacy risks. Using a risk-based approach, the collection, use, storage, and sharing of personal data should be reasonable and appropriate to the contex. Similarly, user transparency, control, and access should be reasonable and appropriate relative to context. This outcome underpins many of the principle-based approaches, including the FIPPs. The Administration is proposing that these outcomes be operationalized through a riskmanagement approach, one that affords organizations flexibility and innovation in how to achieve these outcomes. Protecting both privacy and innovation requires balancing flexibility with the need for legal clarity and strong consumer protections. Being overly prescriptive can result in compliance checklists that stymie innovative privacy solutions. In addition, a prescriptive approach does not necessarily provide measurable privacy benefits. An outcome-based approach emphasizes flexibility, consumer protection, and legal clarity can be achieved through mechanisms that focus on managing risk and minimizing harm to individuals arising from the collection, storage, use, and sharing of their information. The following outcomes are provided to spur comments, discussion, and engagement on how best to achieve user-centric privacy outcomes in a manner that is both flexible and clear, not to propose the text of a legal standard. They should be read as a set of inputs for building better privacy protections into products and services. For example, Access and Correction (item 5, below) is not an abstract requirement. Rather, organizations should consider the overall context in which the product or service operates, including the purpose of the product or PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 48601 service, the privacy risks that the product or service may be creating, other means of mitigating these privacy risks, the impact of access and correction on other organizational risks, and other relevant factors, in order to determine the degree or manner in which access and correction could help achieve a user-centric privacy outcome without creating needless costs. 1. Transparency. Users should be able to easily understand how an organization collects, stores, uses, and shares their personal information. Transparency can be enabled through various means. Organizations should take into account how the average user interacts with a product or service, and maximize the intuitiveness of how it conveys information to users. In many cases, lengthy notices describing a company’s privacy program at a consumer’s initial point of interaction with a product or service does not lead to adequate understanding. Organizations should use approaches that move beyond this paradigm when appropriate. 2. Control. Users should be able to exercise reasonable control over the collection, use, storage, and disclosure of the personal information they provide to organizations. However, which controls to offer, when to offer them, and how they are offered should depend on context, taking into consideration factors such as a user’s expectations and the sensitivity of the information. The controls available to users should be developed with intuitiveness of use, affordability, and accessibility in mind, and should be made available in ways that allow users to exercise informed decision-making. In addition, controls used to withdraw the consent of, or to limit activity previously permitted by, a consumer should be as readily accessible and usable as the controls used to permit the activity. 3. Reasonable Minimization. Data collection, storage length, use, and sharing by organizations should be minimized in a manner and to an extent that is reasonable and appropriate to the context and risk of privacy harm. Other means of reducing the risk of privacy harm (e.g., additional security safeguards or privacy enhancing techniques) can help to reduce the need for such minimization. 4. Security. Organizations that collect, store, use, or share personal information should employ security safeguards to secure these data. Users should be able to expect that their data are protected from loss and unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, and disclosure. Further, organizations should take reasonable security E:\FR\FM\26SEN1.SGM 26SEN1 48602 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 187 / Wednesday, September 26, 2018 / Notices measures appropriate to the level of risk associated with the improper loss of, or improper access to, the collected personal data; they should meet or ideally exceed current consensus best practices, where available. Organizations should secure personal data at all stages, including collection, computation, storage, and transfer of raw and processed data. 5. Access and Correction. Users should have qualified access personal data that they have provided, and to rectify, complete, amend, or delete this data. This access and ability to correct should be reasonable, given the context of the data flow, appropriate to the risk of privacy harm, and should not interfere with an organization’s legal obligations, or the ability of consumers and third parties to exercise other rights provided by the Constitution, and U.S. law, and regulation. 6. Risk Management. Users should expect organizations to take steps to manage and/or mitigate the risk of harmful uses or exposure of personal data. Risk management is the core of this Administration’s approach, as it provides the flexibility to encourage innovation in business models and privacy tools, while focusing on potential consumer harm and maximizing privacy outcomes. 7. Accountability. Organizations should be accountable externally and within their own processes for the use of personal information collected, maintained, and used in their systems. As described below in the High-Level Goals for Federal Action section, external accountability should be structured to incentivize risk and outcome-based approaches within organizations that enable flexibility, encourage privacy-by-design, and focus on privacy outcomes. Organizations that control personal data should also take steps to ensure that their third-party vendors and servicers are accountable for their use, storage, processing, and sharing of that data. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES B. High-Level Goals for Federal Action The Administration is also looking to gather feedback on the following highlevel goals for Federal action. These goals should be understood as setting the broad outline for the direction that Federal action should take, in addition to comments on the goals, we are also looking for comments with details as to how these goals can be achieved. Below is a non-exhaustive and non-prioritized list of the Administration’s priorities. We understand that there is considerable work to be done to achieve these goals. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:21 Sep 25, 2018 Jkt 244001 1. Harmonize the regulatory landscape. While the sectoral system provides strong, focused protections and should be maintained, there is a need to avoid duplicative and contradictory privacy-related obligations placed on organizations. We are actively witnessing the production of a patchwork of competing and contradictory baseline laws. This emerging patchwork harms the American economy and fails to improve privacy outcomes for individuals, who may be unaware of what their privacy protections are, and who may not have equal protections, depending on where the user lives. Steps need to be taken to ensure that the regulatory landscape for organizations that process personal data in the United States remains flexible, strong, predictable, and harmonized. 2. Legal clarity while maintaining the flexibility to innovate. The ideal endstate would ensure that organizations have clear rules that provide for legal clarity, while enabling flexibility that allows for novel business models and technologies, as well as the means to use a variety of methods to achieve consumer-privacy outcomes. The Administration understands that balancing legal clarity, flexibility, and consumer privacy requires compromise and creative thinking. It is in striking this balance, however, that the United States has been able to maintain international leadership in both innovation and privacy enforcement, and any future action should strive to create a system that to the greatest extent possible maximizes each. 3. Comprehensive application. Any action addressing consumer privacy should apply to all private sector organizations that collect, store, use, or share personal data in activities that are not covered by sectoral laws. The differences between business models and technologies used should be addressed through the application of a risk and outcome-based approach, which would allow for similar data practices in similar context to be treated the same rather than through a fragmented regulatory approach. 4. Employ a risk and outcome-based approach. Instead of creating a compliance model that creates cumbersome red tape—without necessarily achieving measurable privacy protections—the approach to privacy regulations should be based on risk modeling and focused on creating user-centric outcomes. Risk-based approaches allow organizations the flexibility to balance business needs, consumer expectations, legal obligations, and potential privacy harms, among other inputs, when PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 making decisions about how to adopt various privacy practices. Outcomebased approaches also enable innovation in the methods used to achieve privacy goals. Risk and outcome-based approaches have been successfully used in cybersecurity, and can be enforced in a way that balances the needs of organizations to be agile in developing new products, services, and business models with the need to provide privacy protections to their customers, while also ensuring clarity in legal compliance. 5. Interoperability. The growth and advancement of the internet-enabled economy depends on personal information moving seamlessly across borders. However, the Administration recognizes that governments approach consumer privacy differently, creating the need for mechanisms to bridge differences, while ensuring personal data remains protected. The Administration should therefore seek to reduce the friction placed on data flows by developing a regulatory landscape that is consistent with the international norms and frameworks in which the United States participates, such as the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules System. 6. Incentivize privacy research. The U.S. Government should encourage more research into, and development of, products and services that improve privacy protections. These technologies and solutions will include measures built into system architectures or product design to mitigate privacy risks, as well as usability features at the userinterface level. These innovations require more research into understanding user preferences, concerns, and difficulties, as well as an understanding of the impact on legal obligations of third parties and the ability of third parties to exercise other rights provided by law. Privacy research will inform the development of standards frameworks, models, methodologies, tools, and products that enhance privacy. 7. FTC enforcement: Given its history of effectiveness, the FTC is the appropriate federal agency to enforce consumer privacy with certain exceptions made for sectoral laws outside the FTC’s jurisdiction, such as HIPAA. It is important to take steps to ensure that the FTC has the necessary resources, clear statutory authority, and direction to enforce consumer privacy laws in a manner that balances the need for strong consumer protections, legal clarity for organizations, and the flexibility to innovate. 8. Scalability: The Administration should ensure that the proverbial sticks E:\FR\FM\26SEN1.SGM 26SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 187 / Wednesday, September 26, 2018 / Notices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES used to incentivize strong consumer privacy outcomes are deployed in proportion to the scale and scope of the information an organization is handling. In general, small businesses that collect little personal information and do not maintain sensitive information about their customers should not be the primary targets of privacy-enforcement activity, so long as they make good-faith efforts to utilize privacy protections. Similarly, there should be a distinction between organizations that control personal data and third-party vendors that merely process that personal data on behalf of other organizations. Just as organizations should employ outcomebased approaches when developing privacy protections for their customers, the government should do the same with its approach to privacy enforcement and compliance. II. Request for Comment A. Through this RFC, the Department is first seeking feedback on what it believes are the core privacy outcomes that consumers can expect from organizations. 1. Are there other outcomes that should be included, or outcomes that should be expanded upon as separate items? 2. Are the descriptions clear? Beyond clarity, are there any issues raised by how any of the outcomes are described? 3. Are there any risks that accompany the list of outcomes, or the general approach taken in the list of outcomes? B. The Department is also seeking feedback on the proposed high-level goals for an end-state for U.S. consumerprivacy protections. 1. Are there other goals that should be included, or outcomes that should be expanded upon? 2. Are the descriptions clear? Beyond clarity, are there any issues raised by how the issues are described? 3. Are there any risks that accompany the list of goals, or the general approach taken by the Department? C. The Department is seeking comments that describe what the next steps and measures the Administration should take to effectuate the previously discussed user-centric privacy outcomes, and to achieve an end-state in line with the high-level goals. In particular: 1. Are there any aspects of this approach that could be implemented or enhanced through Executive action, for example, through procurement? Are there any non-regulatory actions that could be undertaken? If so, what actions should the Executive branch take? 2. Should the Department convene people and organizations to further VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:21 Sep 25, 2018 Jkt 244001 explore additional commercial data privacy-related issues? If so, what is the recommended focus and desired outcomes? 3. What aspects of the Department’s proposed approach to consumer privacy, if any, are best achieved via other means? Are there any recommended statutory changes? D. The Department understands that some of the most important work in establishing privacy protections lies within the definitions of key terms, and seeks comments on the defintions. In particular: 1. Do any terms used in this document require more precise definitions? 2. Are there suggestions on how to better define these terms? 3. Are there other terms that would benefit from more precise definitions? 4. What should those definitions be? E. One of the high-level end-state goals is for the FTC to continue as the Federal consumer privacy enforcement agency, outside of sectoral exceptions beyond the FTC’s jurisdiction. In order to achieve the goals laid out in this RFC, would changes need to be made with regard to the FTC’s resources, processes, and/or statutory authority? F. If all or some of the outcomes or high-level goals described in this RFC were replicated by other countries, do you believe it would be easier for U.S. companies to provide goods and services in those countries? G. Are there other ways to achieve U.S. leadership that are not included in this RFC, or any outcomes or high-level goals in this document that would be detrimental to achieving the goal of achieving U.S. leadership? Instructions for Commenters This is a general solicitation of comments from the public. We invite comments on the full range of questions presented by this RFC and on issues that are not specifically raised. Commenters are encouraged to address any or all of the questions above. Comments that contain references to specific court cases, studies, and/or research should include copies of the referenced materials along with the submitted comments. Commenters should include the name of the person or organization filing the comment, as well as a page number on each page of the submissions. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted on the NTIA website, www.ntia.doc.gov/ privacyrfc2018, without change. All personal identifying information (for example, name or address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 48603 publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. Dated: September 21, 2018. David J. Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, National Telecommunications and Information Administration. [FR Doc. 2018–20941 Filed 9–25–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–60–P COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION Agency Information Collection Activities Under OMB Review Commodity Futures Trading Commission. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), this notice announces that the Information Collection Request (ICR) abstracted below has been forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and comment. The ICR describes the nature of the information collection and its expected costs and burden. DATES: Comments must be submitted on or before October 26, 2018. ADDRESSES: Comments regarding the burden estimate or any other aspect of the information collection, including suggestions for reducing the burden, may be submitted directly to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in OMB within 30 days of this notice’s publication by either of the following methods. Please identify the comments by ‘‘OMB Control No. 3038– 0069.’’ • By email addressed to: OIRAsubmissions@omb.eop.gov or • By mail addressed to: the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Attention Desk Officer for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, 725 17th Street NW, Washington DC 20503. A copy of all comments submitted to OIRA should be sent to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the ‘‘Commission’’) by either of the following methods. The copies should refer to ‘‘OMB Control No. 3038–0069.’’ • By mail addressed to: Christopher Kirkpatrick, Secretary of the Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20581; • By Hand Delivery/Courier to the same address; or SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\26SEN1.SGM 26SEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 187 (Wednesday, September 26, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 48600-48603]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-20941]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

[Docket No. 180821780-8780-01]
RIN 0660-XC043


Developing the Administration's Approach to Consumer Privacy

AGENCY: National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 
U.S. Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; request for public comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: On behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National 
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is requesting 
comments on ways to advance consumer privacy while protecting 
prosperity and innovation. NTIA is seeking public comments on a 
proposed approach to this task that lays out a set of user-centric 
privacy outcomes that underpin the protections that should be produced 
by any Federal actions on consumer-privacy policy, and a set of high-
level goals that describe the outlines of the ecosystem that should be 
created to provide those protections.

DATES: Comments must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on 
October 26, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Written comments identified by Docket No. 180821780-8780-01 
may be submitted by email to [email protected]. Comments 
submitted by email should be machine-readable and should not be copy-
protected. Written comments also may be submitted by mail to the 
National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. 
Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 4725, Attn: 
Privacy RFC, Washington, DC 20230.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Travis Hall, Telecommunications Policy 
Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development, National 
Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of 
Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 4725, Washington, DC 20230; 
telephone: 202-482-3522; email: [email protected].
    For media inquiries: Anne Veigle, Director, Office of Public 
Affairs, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 
U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 4897, 
Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-7002; email: 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    The U.S. Department of Commerce (Department) requests comment on 
ways to advance consumer privacy while protecting prosperity and 
innovation. Every day, individuals interact with an array of products 
and services, many of which have become integral to their daily lives. 
Often, especially in the digital environment, these products and 
services depend on the collection, retention, and use of personal data 
about their users. Users must therefore trust that organizations will 
respect their interests, understand what is happening with their 
personal data, and decide whether they are comfortable with this 
exchange. Trust is at the core of the United States' privacy policy 
formation. Through this Request for Comment (RFC), the Administration 
will determine the best path toward protecting individual's privacy 
while fostering innovation.
    The time is ripe for this Administration to provide the leadership 
needed to ensure that the United States remains at the forefront of 
enabling innovation with strong privacy protections. A growing number 
of foreign countries, and some U.S. states, have articulated distinct 
visions for how to address privacy concerns, leading to a nationally 
and globally fragmented regulatory landscape. Such fragmentation 
naturally disincentivizes innovation by increasing the regulatory costs 
for products that require scale. The Administration hopes to articulate 
a renewed vision, one that reduces fragmentation nationally and 
increases harmonization and interoperability nationally and globally.
    Further, changes in the way personal information is used by 
organizations, and how users interact with the products and services 
with which they frequently engage, have increased the belief that users 
are losing control over their personal information. As seen in data 
collected by the National Telecommunications and Information 
Administration (NTIA), at least a third of online households have been 
deterred from certain forms of online activity, such as financial 
transactions, due to privacy and security concerns.\1\ The 
Administration takes these concerns seriously and believes that users 
should be able to benefit from dynamic uses of their information, while 
still expecting organizations will appropriately minimize risks to 
users' privacy. Risk-based flexibility is therefore at the heart of the 
approach the Administration is requesting comment on in this RFC. We 
are mindful of the potential impact of a solution on small and mid-
sized businesses, and we will be looking for solutions that support 
their continued ability to innovate and support economic growth.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ NTIA Blog, ``Most Americans Continue to Have Privacy and 
Security Concerns, NTIA Survey Finds'' (Aug. 20, 2018), https://www.ntia.doc.gov/blog/2018/most-americans-continue-have-privacy-and-security-concerns-ntia-survey-finds.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The United States has a history of providing strong protections for 
privacy dating back to 1789, with the drafting of our Bill of Rights, 
including the Fourth Amendment. The United States also has been a 
leader in developing privacy norms, be it through the development of 
what ultimately became known as the Fair Information Practice 
Principles (FIPPs) in the 1970's, or through the strongest privacy 
enforcement regime in the world. For users of products and services in 
several sectors (e.g., healthcare, education, financial services), 
specific laws cover how organizations handle personal information. 
Where no sector-specific laws apply, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 
has the authority to ensure that organizations are not deceiving 
consumers or operating unfairly. In all respects, the United

[[Page 48601]]

States has successfully investigated and taken enforcement actions 
against organizations that violate these existing Federal laws. This 
RFC asks how best to strengthen the protections users currently enjoy; 
it does not propose changing current sectoral federal laws.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ These sectoral laws include, but are not limited to, the 
Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act, Gramm-Leach-Bliley 
Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 
(HIPAA), and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This RFC is the outcome of an interagency process led by the 
National Economic Council (NEC) of the United States. NTIA has worked 
in coordination with the International Trade Administration (ITA) to 
ensure consistency with international policy objectives, and in 
parallel with the work of the National Institute of Standards and 
Technology (NIST) in developing a voluntary risk-based Privacy 
Framework as an enterprise risk management tool for organizations. In 
developing this RFC, the Department conducted significant outreach to a 
diverse set of individuals and organizations, including a broad range 
of industries, academics, and civil society organizations. These 
meetings helped to shape this Administration's proposed general 
approach to privacy, described below.
    This approach is divided into two parts: (1) A set of user-centric 
privacy outcomes that underpin the protections that should be produced 
by any Federal actions on consumer-privacy policy, and (2) a set of 
high-level goals that describe the outlines of the ecosystem that 
should be created to provide those protections. This Administration is 
approaching this subject with humility, an understanding of the 
complexity of the issues at hand, and a commitment to a transparent 
process. As such, this RFC does not call for the creation of a 
statutory standard. Rather, it is looking to commenters to respond with 
details as to how these privacy outcomes and goals can be achieved. 
These comments will help to inform future Administration policy, 
actions, and engagement on consumer privacy.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ This Request for Comment is focused solely on private 
collection, use, storage, and sharing of personal data. It does not 
address lawful government access to such data.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

A. Privacy Outcomes

    Principle-based approaches to privacy, particularly when written to 
be operationalized, often encapsulate the desired outcome and the means 
used to achieve this outcome. For example, the consent of an informed 
user is the end-goal of most approaches to consumer privacy, but in 
order to create legal clarity, this principle is implemented by 
mandating notice and choice. To date, such mandates have resulted 
primarily in long, legal, regulator-focused privacy policies and check 
boxes, which only help a very small number of users who choose to read 
these policies and make binary choices.
    The Administration is instead proposing that discussion of consumer 
privacy in the United States refocus on the outcomes of organizational 
practices, rather than on dictating what those practices should be. The 
desired outcome is a reasonably informed user, empowered to 
meaningfully express privacy preferences, as well as products and 
services that are inherently designed with appropriate privacy 
protections, particularly in business contexts in which relying on user 
intervention may be insufficient to manage privacy risks. Using a risk-
based approach, the collection, use, storage, and sharing of personal 
data should be reasonable and appropriate to the contex. Similarly, 
user transparency, control, and access should be reasonable and 
appropriate relative to context. This outcome underpins many of the 
principle-based approaches, including the FIPPs. The Administration is 
proposing that these outcomes be operationalized through a risk-
management approach, one that affords organizations flexibility and 
innovation in how to achieve these outcomes.
    Protecting both privacy and innovation requires balancing 
flexibility with the need for legal clarity and strong consumer 
protections. Being overly prescriptive can result in compliance 
checklists that stymie innovative privacy solutions. In addition, a 
prescriptive approach does not necessarily provide measurable privacy 
benefits. An outcome-based approach emphasizes flexibility, consumer 
protection, and legal clarity can be achieved through mechanisms that 
focus on managing risk and minimizing harm to individuals arising from 
the collection, storage, use, and sharing of their information.
    The following outcomes are provided to spur comments, discussion, 
and engagement on how best to achieve user-centric privacy outcomes in 
a manner that is both flexible and clear, not to propose the text of a 
legal standard. They should be read as a set of inputs for building 
better privacy protections into products and services. For example, 
Access and Correction (item 5, below) is not an abstract requirement. 
Rather, organizations should consider the overall context in which the 
product or service operates, including the purpose of the product or 
service, the privacy risks that the product or service may be creating, 
other means of mitigating these privacy risks, the impact of access and 
correction on other organizational risks, and other relevant factors, 
in order to determine the degree or manner in which access and 
correction could help achieve a user-centric privacy outcome without 
creating needless costs.
    1. Transparency. Users should be able to easily understand how an 
organization collects, stores, uses, and shares their personal 
information. Transparency can be enabled through various means. 
Organizations should take into account how the average user interacts 
with a product or service, and maximize the intuitiveness of how it 
conveys information to users. In many cases, lengthy notices describing 
a company's privacy program at a consumer's initial point of 
interaction with a product or service does not lead to adequate 
understanding. Organizations should use approaches that move beyond 
this paradigm when appropriate.
    2. Control. Users should be able to exercise reasonable control 
over the collection, use, storage, and disclosure of the personal 
information they provide to organizations. However, which controls to 
offer, when to offer them, and how they are offered should depend on 
context, taking into consideration factors such as a user's 
expectations and the sensitivity of the information. The controls 
available to users should be developed with intuitiveness of use, 
affordability, and accessibility in mind, and should be made available 
in ways that allow users to exercise informed decision-making. In 
addition, controls used to withdraw the consent of, or to limit 
activity previously permitted by, a consumer should be as readily 
accessible and usable as the controls used to permit the activity.
    3. Reasonable Minimization. Data collection, storage length, use, 
and sharing by organizations should be minimized in a manner and to an 
extent that is reasonable and appropriate to the context and risk of 
privacy harm. Other means of reducing the risk of privacy harm (e.g., 
additional security safeguards or privacy enhancing techniques) can 
help to reduce the need for such minimization.
    4. Security. Organizations that collect, store, use, or share 
personal information should employ security safeguards to secure these 
data. Users should be able to expect that their data are protected from 
loss and unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, and 
disclosure. Further, organizations should take reasonable security

[[Page 48602]]

measures appropriate to the level of risk associated with the improper 
loss of, or improper access to, the collected personal data; they 
should meet or ideally exceed current consensus best practices, where 
available. Organizations should secure personal data at all stages, 
including collection, computation, storage, and transfer of raw and 
processed data.
    5. Access and Correction. Users should have qualified access 
personal data that they have provided, and to rectify, complete, amend, 
or delete this data. This access and ability to correct should be 
reasonable, given the context of the data flow, appropriate to the risk 
of privacy harm, and should not interfere with an organization's legal 
obligations, or the ability of consumers and third parties to exercise 
other rights provided by the Constitution, and U.S. law, and 
regulation.
    6. Risk Management. Users should expect organizations to take steps 
to manage and/or mitigate the risk of harmful uses or exposure of 
personal data. Risk management is the core of this Administration's 
approach, as it provides the flexibility to encourage innovation in 
business models and privacy tools, while focusing on potential consumer 
harm and maximizing privacy outcomes.
    7. Accountability. Organizations should be accountable externally 
and within their own processes for the use of personal information 
collected, maintained, and used in their systems. As described below in 
the High-Level Goals for Federal Action section, external 
accountability should be structured to incentivize risk and outcome-
based approaches within organizations that enable flexibility, 
encourage privacy-by-design, and focus on privacy outcomes. 
Organizations that control personal data should also take steps to 
ensure that their third-party vendors and servicers are accountable for 
their use, storage, processing, and sharing of that data.

B. High-Level Goals for Federal Action

    The Administration is also looking to gather feedback on the 
following high-level goals for Federal action. These goals should be 
understood as setting the broad outline for the direction that Federal 
action should take, in addition to comments on the goals, we are also 
looking for comments with details as to how these goals can be 
achieved. Below is a non-exhaustive and non-prioritized list of the 
Administration's priorities. We understand that there is considerable 
work to be done to achieve these goals.
    1. Harmonize the regulatory landscape. While the sectoral system 
provides strong, focused protections and should be maintained, there is 
a need to avoid duplicative and contradictory privacy-related 
obligations placed on organizations. We are actively witnessing the 
production of a patchwork of competing and contradictory baseline laws. 
This emerging patchwork harms the American economy and fails to improve 
privacy outcomes for individuals, who may be unaware of what their 
privacy protections are, and who may not have equal protections, 
depending on where the user lives. Steps need to be taken to ensure 
that the regulatory landscape for organizations that process personal 
data in the United States remains flexible, strong, predictable, and 
harmonized.
    2. Legal clarity while maintaining the flexibility to innovate. The 
ideal end-state would ensure that organizations have clear rules that 
provide for legal clarity, while enabling flexibility that allows for 
novel business models and technologies, as well as the means to use a 
variety of methods to achieve consumer-privacy outcomes. The 
Administration understands that balancing legal clarity, flexibility, 
and consumer privacy requires compromise and creative thinking. It is 
in striking this balance, however, that the United States has been able 
to maintain international leadership in both innovation and privacy 
enforcement, and any future action should strive to create a system 
that to the greatest extent possible maximizes each.
    3. Comprehensive application. Any action addressing consumer 
privacy should apply to all private sector organizations that collect, 
store, use, or share personal data in activities that are not covered 
by sectoral laws. The differences between business models and 
technologies used should be addressed through the application of a risk 
and outcome-based approach, which would allow for similar data 
practices in similar context to be treated the same rather than through 
a fragmented regulatory approach.
    4. Employ a risk and outcome-based approach. Instead of creating a 
compliance model that creates cumbersome red tape--without necessarily 
achieving measurable privacy protections--the approach to privacy 
regulations should be based on risk modeling and focused on creating 
user-centric outcomes. Risk-based approaches allow organizations the 
flexibility to balance business needs, consumer expectations, legal 
obligations, and potential privacy harms, among other inputs, when 
making decisions about how to adopt various privacy practices. Outcome-
based approaches also enable innovation in the methods used to achieve 
privacy goals. Risk and outcome-based approaches have been successfully 
used in cybersecurity, and can be enforced in a way that balances the 
needs of organizations to be agile in developing new products, 
services, and business models with the need to provide privacy 
protections to their customers, while also ensuring clarity in legal 
compliance.
    5. Interoperability. The growth and advancement of the internet-
enabled economy depends on personal information moving seamlessly 
across borders. However, the Administration recognizes that governments 
approach consumer privacy differently, creating the need for mechanisms 
to bridge differences, while ensuring personal data remains protected. 
The Administration should therefore seek to reduce the friction placed 
on data flows by developing a regulatory landscape that is consistent 
with the international norms and frameworks in which the United States 
participates, such as the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules System.
    6. Incentivize privacy research. The U.S. Government should 
encourage more research into, and development of, products and services 
that improve privacy protections. These technologies and solutions will 
include measures built into system architectures or product design to 
mitigate privacy risks, as well as usability features at the user-
interface level. These innovations require more research into 
understanding user preferences, concerns, and difficulties, as well as 
an understanding of the impact on legal obligations of third parties 
and the ability of third parties to exercise other rights provided by 
law. Privacy research will inform the development of standards 
frameworks, models, methodologies, tools, and products that enhance 
privacy.
    7. FTC enforcement: Given its history of effectiveness, the FTC is 
the appropriate federal agency to enforce consumer privacy with certain 
exceptions made for sectoral laws outside the FTC's jurisdiction, such 
as HIPAA. It is important to take steps to ensure that the FTC has the 
necessary resources, clear statutory authority, and direction to 
enforce consumer privacy laws in a manner that balances the need for 
strong consumer protections, legal clarity for organizations, and the 
flexibility to innovate.
    8. Scalability: The Administration should ensure that the 
proverbial sticks

[[Page 48603]]

used to incentivize strong consumer privacy outcomes are deployed in 
proportion to the scale and scope of the information an organization is 
handling. In general, small businesses that collect little personal 
information and do not maintain sensitive information about their 
customers should not be the primary targets of privacy-enforcement 
activity, so long as they make good-faith efforts to utilize privacy 
protections. Similarly, there should be a distinction between 
organizations that control personal data and third-party vendors that 
merely process that personal data on behalf of other organizations. 
Just as organizations should employ outcome-based approaches when 
developing privacy protections for their customers, the government 
should do the same with its approach to privacy enforcement and 
compliance.

II. Request for Comment

    A. Through this RFC, the Department is first seeking feedback on 
what it believes are the core privacy outcomes that consumers can 
expect from organizations.
    1. Are there other outcomes that should be included, or outcomes 
that should be expanded upon as separate items?
    2. Are the descriptions clear? Beyond clarity, are there any issues 
raised by how any of the outcomes are described?
    3. Are there any risks that accompany the list of outcomes, or the 
general approach taken in the list of outcomes?
    B. The Department is also seeking feedback on the proposed high-
level goals for an end-state for U.S. consumer-privacy protections.
    1. Are there other goals that should be included, or outcomes that 
should be expanded upon?
    2. Are the descriptions clear? Beyond clarity, are there any issues 
raised by how the issues are described?
    3. Are there any risks that accompany the list of goals, or the 
general approach taken by the Department?
    C. The Department is seeking comments that describe what the next 
steps and measures the Administration should take to effectuate the 
previously discussed user-centric privacy outcomes, and to achieve an 
end-state in line with the high-level goals. In particular:
    1. Are there any aspects of this approach that could be implemented 
or enhanced through Executive action, for example, through procurement? 
Are there any non-regulatory actions that could be undertaken? If so, 
what actions should the Executive branch take?
    2. Should the Department convene people and organizations to 
further explore additional commercial data privacy-related issues? If 
so, what is the recommended focus and desired outcomes?
    3. What aspects of the Department's proposed approach to consumer 
privacy, if any, are best achieved via other means? Are there any 
recommended statutory changes?
    D. The Department understands that some of the most important work 
in establishing privacy protections lies within the definitions of key 
terms, and seeks comments on the defintions. In particular:
    1. Do any terms used in this document require more precise 
definitions?
    2. Are there suggestions on how to better define these terms?
    3. Are there other terms that would benefit from more precise 
definitions?
    4. What should those definitions be?
    E. One of the high-level end-state goals is for the FTC to continue 
as the Federal consumer privacy enforcement agency, outside of sectoral 
exceptions beyond the FTC's jurisdiction. In order to achieve the goals 
laid out in this RFC, would changes need to be made with regard to the 
FTC's resources, processes, and/or statutory authority?
    F. If all or some of the outcomes or high-level goals described in 
this RFC were replicated by other countries, do you believe it would be 
easier for U.S. companies to provide goods and services in those 
countries?
    G. Are there other ways to achieve U.S. leadership that are not 
included in this RFC, or any outcomes or high-level goals in this 
document that would be detrimental to achieving the goal of achieving 
U.S. leadership?

Instructions for Commenters

    This is a general solicitation of comments from the public. We 
invite comments on the full range of questions presented by this RFC 
and on issues that are not specifically raised. Commenters are 
encouraged to address any or all of the questions above. Comments that 
contain references to specific court cases, studies, and/or research 
should include copies of the referenced materials along with the 
submitted comments. Commenters should include the name of the person or 
organization filing the comment, as well as a page number on each page 
of the submissions. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted on the NTIA website, 
www.ntia.doc.gov/privacyrfc2018, without change. All personal 
identifying information (for example, name or address) voluntarily 
submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit 
confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected 
information.

    Dated: September 21, 2018.
David J. Redl,
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, National 
Telecommunications and Information Administration.
[FR Doc. 2018-20941 Filed 9-25-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-60-P