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A Homework Assignment for Privacy Stakeholders

August 1, 2012
John Verdi, Director of Privacy Initiatives

On July 12, 2012 we took another step toward implementing the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, the centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s blueprint to improve consumer privacy safeguards and promote the growth of the digital economy.

Stakeholders from industry, consumer groups, government, academia, and the technical community began work toward crafting a code of conduct to promote transparency — one of the principles in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights — in how consumer data is handled by mobile applications. After seeking public input, we chose this topic because it affects many consumers yet is a narrow enough issue for stakeholders to develop a code of conduct within a reasonable period of time. As stakeholders gain experience working together to address mobile app transparency, we are also laying the groundwork for tackling other privacy challenges.

The first meeting was a success. Hundreds of stakeholders participated, both in person and remotely. As the day progressed, we saw stakeholders raise constructive suggestions regarding what elements might be included in the code. Stakeholders also began to discuss the rules of the road for this process, proposing ways that the group can work together to develop the code.

As Assistant Secretary Strickling has said about this effort, NTIA’s role is not to substitute our judgment for the views of stakeholders. We will not weigh in on substantive issues. But we remain committed to ensuring the process is open, transparent, and consensus-based.

We plan to convene two meetings in August, one on August 22, 2012 and another on August 29, 2012. The meetings will be opportunities for stakeholders to continue developing a code of conduct while building the process that will govern their efforts moving forward.

In the meantime, there is more work to be done. We have posted the lists of discussion elements raised by stakeholders at the last meeting, as well as feedback from the non-binding polling that occurred. We encourage stakeholders to use the time between meetings to continue working on these issues with likeminded colleagues or in cross-cutting groups. We hope that all stakeholders will work together to refine the substantive elements of a potential code and to develop concrete proposals for how to structure the process.

Some stakeholders have already established a public, archived mailing list to discuss the process. We did not create the mailing list. The list is not sponsored or operated by NTIA. Instead, it was created and is operated by stakeholders. The mailing list demonstrates the high level of stakeholder engagement and highlights the value of the stakeholder-driven process.

Thank you to all the participants who have gotten the first NTIA privacy multistakeholder process off to a strong start.