April 17, 2012 Articles

New Privacy Framework Poses Challenges for Digital Stakeholders

The Obama administration takes a bold step to secure online privacy for consumers.

By David S. Almeida and David M. Poell – April 17, 2012

The many benefits of recent advancements in digital technologies are undeniable. Consumers love the convenience and sense of connectedness that comes with the digital/social-media age, but remain uneasy about perceived erosions of privacy, both online and off. Compounding the problem, existing laws and regulations do not adequately address such rapidly evolving technologies, and the consequent scramble to develop new ones has led to a quagmire of ill-fitting state and federal laws, regulations, best practices, and industry standards. The number of privacy bills currently pending in Congress has done little to produce an objective framework to guide corporate behavior and to inform consumer expectations. Not to be outdone, nearly every state has its own breach-notification and/or other privacy-related laws on the books. Just last week, the attorney general of California—which has several particularized privacy requirements—announced that all mobile applications (apps) must clearly and conspicuously post the developer’s privacy policy in accordance with California’s Online Privacy Protect Act (OPPA)—which can be a challenging task given the relatively small display area of most mobile devices. Needless to say, this ad hoc, piecemeal approach to legislating digital privacy leaves much to be desired from those on both sides of the screen.

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