A little over a year ago, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a preliminary report on privacy. That “green paper” has now ripened into a framework of specific recommendations aimed at protecting the privacy and use of consumer data while promoting global commerce innovations.
Last week, I joined the group at the White House for the release of the Framework and White Paper for protecting privacy and promoting innovation in the global digital economy.
National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling emphasized the importance of trust by consumers in order to encourage internet commerce. The Foreword of the Framework document reads “Trust is essential to maintaining the social and economic benefits that networked technologies bring to the United States and the rest of the world.” The same theme was echoed by the Secretary of Commerce and the Chairman of the FTC in their remarks.
A Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights within The Framework contains elements requiring additional legislation and regulation. But more important than any “battle of the drafts” is the overall tone and approach. In short, consumers need to trust the people and companies they meet on the internet, and have their information treated fairly.
At Visa, we are actively engaged in and support efforts to implement appropriate guidelines for the collection, security and use of personal information, all while ensuring the ability for industry to innovate. The trust Visa cardholders place in us is directly linked to our history of securing the data we collect and using it to provide valuable services like preventing fraud, reducing the risks of identity theft, and providing value-added offers and rewards linked with the use of a Visa card.
The important privacy protection concepts within this White Paper should build upon requirements in existing legislation and regulation, such as those in GLBA for financial institutions– an industry that is doing a good job of managing privacy. Among those important concepts are:
A commitment to and expansion of what are known as the Fair Information Practice Principles. It must be made clear what is being collected, when it is collected, how it will be used, that it will be secure and, ultimately and when appropriate, be deleted or depersonalized.
Support for self-regulatory programs. Industries such as web advertisers and search networks are being encouraged to create guidelines or best practices for protecting people’s privacy. I am on the Board of Directors of the Council of Better Business Bureaus which provides an example of such programs, and Visa participates in others.
Consistency and Efficiency. Many states and countries have developed conflicting privacy regulation and can lead to unintended commercial hurdles. Consistent guidelines in the U.S. can lead to consistent enforcement, benefitting companies and their customers.
Promote a view beyond our borders. As Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas increase their attention to privacy, it will be important to promote policies, practices, and procedures that allow countries and companies to deliver efficiently their products and services on a worldwide basis.
Now that the Commerce Department has issued its White Paper, the concepts and recommendations in it will stimulate serious discussion in Congress, international capitals, executive suites and the shop floor. The results will only improve on the approach industry players take in the U.S. on privacy.
At Visa, it is our plan to continue to be an active part of the discussion. The proper care of personal information and the trust consumers and businesses have placed in us have long been keys to our success. It is a mission we will continue to take seriously.
Posted by: Russell Schrader, Visa Chief Privacy Officer on March 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm