This site contains information from January 2009-December 2014. Click HERE to go the CURRENT website.

Blog Category: Privacy

GC Kerry discusses the US approach to privacy at an American Chamber of Commerce event in Italy

Panel at American Chamber of Commerce event in Italy

On June 21, 2012, General Counsel Kerry attended a privacy event in Italy -- Data Protection and Privacy Regulation: What Impact on Businesses and Consumers?


General Counsel Kerry Travels to the EU to Discuss US-EU Commercial Data Privacy Efforts

On June 20, General Counsel Cameron F. Kerry arrived in Rome, Italy for the second leg of his trip to Europe to engage with senior government and private sector officials on consumer data privacy.  As President Obama said in the Administration’s policy blueprint, Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy (Privacy Blueprint), “[n]ever has privacy been more important than today, in the age of the Internet, the World Wide Web and smart phones.”  The Commerce Department is committed to protecting consumer privacy while encouraging innovation, entrepreneurship, and supporting jobs and growth.

Commerce Department’s NTIA Announces First Privacy Multistakeholder Process Topic

Friday, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced the first topic for the multistakeholder process called for by the Obama Administration's Consumer Privacy Blueprint.  On July 12th, 2012, NTIA will convene stakeholders to begin developing codes of conduct to provide transparency in how companies providing applications and interactive services for mobile devices handle personal data.  More information about the first multistakeholder process is available at, and a blog post from NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling is available at

Guidance Published on Implementation of Administration Policy on Scientific Integrity

On December 16, 2011 General Counsel Kerry updated the June 15th memorandum implementing the Administration Policy on Scientific Integrity.  The update provides additional guidance consistent with the policy recommendations of Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), who issued an Administration policy on scientific integrity, implementing a Presidential memorandum of March 9, 2009.  In particular, the memorandum provides additional direction on federal advisory committees and expands upon the Department's support for scientists and engineers to participate and provide leadership in scientific and professional organizations.  This memorandum establishes policy directives for the Department of Commerce to ensure the highest integrity of science and scientific products developed and utilized by the Department and its bureaus.  The updated memorandum and the June 15th memorandum are attached below.


Cameron Kerry delivers keynote address to Second Annual European Data Protection and Privacy Conference

Cameron Kerry delivered one of the keynote addresses to the Second Annual European Data Protection and Privacy Conference on December 6 in Brussels, Belgium. His address, entitled Transatlantic Solutions for Data Privacy, explained the Obama administration's framework for how to protect consumer data privacy while promoting innovation in the global digital economy. This framework refines the ideas first expressed in the green paper released last year.

Protecting Consumers & Promoting Innovation Online: A Call for Baseline Privacy Legislation

Guest blog post by Cameron Kerry, General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The time has come for Congress to pass strong Internet consumer privacy legislation that provides clear rules of the road for businesses and consumers while preserving the innovation and free flow of information that are hallmarks of the Internet economy.

That’s the Obama Administration’s conclusion based on the work we have been doing on commercial data privacy.  Three months ago, the Commerce Department published its Green Paper, which contained preliminary policy recommendations to enhance consumer protection and strengthen online trust, while ensuring the Web remains a platform for innovation, jobs, and economic growth

In response, the Commerce Department received thoughtful and well-researched comments from over a hundred stakeholders representing industry, consumer groups, and academic sectors.  We carefully reviewed all them.  Through the Privacy and Internet Policy Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), which I co-chair with Assistant Attorney General Christopher Schroeder, we consulted with Federal agencies and key White House offices to develop a roadmap for moving forward on this important Administration priority.

Based our review, we have concluded that baseline consumer privacy legislation will strengthen the U.S. Internet privacy framework for consumers and businesses alike.  The Obama Administration is committed to working with Congress to pass a bill that provides a stronger statutory framework to protect consumers’ privacy interests in data that are collected and used or disclosed in commercial contexts in the Internet economy, while supporting innovation.  Consumer privacy legislation should have the following elements:

The Commerce Department’s Latest Privacy Initiative on Data Privacy Day

Today is Data Privacy Day, an annual international celebration to raise awareness and generate discussion about information privacy designated by both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives in 2009. In honor of Data Privacy Day, here’s an update on the latest Commerce Department initiative to protect the privacy of the American people.

On Jan. 7 at a discussion forum with business and academic leaders at Stanford University, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard A. Schmidt unveiled plans to establish a National Program Office at the Commerce Department to help implement the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, an administration initiative that aims to foster private-sector development of new technologies that can improve both the privacy and the security of sensitive online transactions.

Cybercrime and identity theft cost U.S. consumers hundreds of millions of dollars annually. So the idea is that the private sector would lead the development of better technologies for consumers and businesses to establish their identities before they conduct sensitive transactions like banking, shopping or downloading health care records. The Commerce Department would facilitate the process by building consensus on standards and managing collaborative efforts with other federal agencies.

General Counsel Kerry addresses the 2011 State of the Net Conference

On January 18, 2011, DOC General Counsel Kerry delivered keynote remarks at the seventh annual State of the Net Conference hosted by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee.  The conference is one of the largest information technology policy conference in the U.S. and provides a venue for academics, consumer groups, industry and government to hear from policy experts from across the spectrum of information technology issues and to interact in a bi-partisan environment.

In his remarks, General Counsel Kerry highlighted key policy recommendations from the Commerce Department’s recently released  policy green paper “Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework.” These policy recommendations aim to promote consumer privacy online while ensuring the Internet remains a platform that spurs innovation, job creation, and economic growth.  Recommendations included: establishing Fair Information Practice Principles comparable to a “privacy bill of rights” for online consumers; developing enforceable privacy codes of conduct in specific sectors with multi-stakeholder input; and engaging the international community to encourage global Interoperability. The Department is seeking additional public comment on the privacy paper to further the policy discussion and ensure the framework benefits all stakeholders in the Internet economy. Comments are due January 28th.


Released: Policy Framework for Protecting Consumer Privacy Online While Supporting Innovation

The Department of Commerce today issued a report detailing initial policy recommendations aimed at promoting consumer privacy online while ensuring the Internet remains a platform that spurs innovation, job creation, and economic growth.  The report outlines a dynamic framework to increase protection of consumers’ commercial data and support innovation and evolving technology. The Department is seeking additional public comment on the plan to further the policy discussion and ensure the framework benefits all stakeholders in the Internet economy.

“America needs a robust privacy framework that preserves consumer trust in the evolving Internet economy while ensuring the Web remains a platform for innovation, jobs, and economic growth. Self-regulation without stronger enforcement is not enough. Consumers must trust the Internet in order for businesses to succeed online.” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

Today’s report, based on extensive public input and discussion, recognizes the growing economic and social importance of preserving consumer trust in the Internet.  Global online transactions are currently estimated at $10 trillion annually. Between 1998 and 2008, the number of domestic IT jobs grew by 26 percent – four times faster than U.S. employment as a whole – with IT employment projected to increase another 22 percent by 2018.

The following are key recommendations in today’s preliminary report, Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework:

  • Consider Establishing Fair Information Practice Principles comparable to a “Privacy Bill of Rights” for Online Consumers
  • Consider Developing Enforceable Privacy Codes of Conduct in Specific Sectors with Stakeholders; Create a Privacy Policy Office in the Department of Commerce
  • Encourage Global Interoperability to Spur Innovation and Trade
  • Consider How to Harmonize Disparate Security Breach Notification Rules
  • Review the Electronic Communications Privacy Act for the Cloud Computing Environment

Read the more detailed press release.  |  Learn more about and read the report.

Commerce Official Says Online Consumer Privacy is Critical to a Strong Digital Economy

Both industry and public interest groups agree that online consumer privacy should be strengthened, said Daniel Weitzner, NTIA’s Associate Administrator for Policy. Speaking in Washington D.C. today, Weitzner said that public response to the Commerce Department’s inquiry into online privacy underscores the need to bolster privacy in a manner that continues to ensure the Web remains a platform for innovation, jobs, and economic growth.

Weitzner said that the Commerce Department’s decision to address online privacy and other Internet policy issues stems from the significant and growing social and economic contributions that the Internet makes to our lives. For example, domestic online transactions are currently estimated to total $3.5 trillion annually, and digital commerce is a leading source of job growth.  “Preserving consumer trust is essential to the sustainability and continued growth of the digital economy,” said  Weitzner.

Based on stakeholder feedback gained through the Commerce Department’s inquiry, Weitzner outlined an approach that can promote innovation while increasing consumer trust, including committing to baseline privacy principles and convening stakeholders to develop voluntary but enforceable codes of conduct to implement those principles.

Commerce Officials Address Privacy and Innovation at International Conferences

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Lawrence E. Strickling today addressed privacy and innovation at the 32nd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. In his keynote address, Strickling stressed that preserving trust in the Internet is imperative for its sustainability and continued growth. He noted, for example, that “if users do not trust that their personal information is safe on the Internet, they will worry about using new services. If content providers do not trust that their content will be protected, they will threaten to stop putting it online.”

Strickling called for technologists and entrepreneurs, privacy and consumer advocates, business interests, and the government to work together to develop a privacy policy. He envisions “a strong role for voluntary but enforceable codes of conduct, which must be developed through open, multi-stakeholder processes."

Stressing the importance of engaging the international community on privacy, Strickling added, “The time for greater international cooperation is here. All nations, including the United States, must be ready to work together and begin a proactive and productive dialogue on privacy reform efforts.” (Full Remarks)

Earlier this week, Department of Commerce General Counsel Cam Kerry participated in the keynote panel of the 30th Annual OECD Privacy Guidelines Conference and expressed a desire to create a global environment that protects privacy. (Full Remarks)

General Counsel Kerry addresses the OECD 30th Annual Privacy Guidelines Conference in Jerusalem

Alternate TextYesterday, General Counsel Kerry participated in the keynote panel of the 30th Annual OECD Privacy Guidelines Conference.  The conference's opening remarks were delivered by Director General Guy Rotkopf of the Israeli Ministry of Justice and OECD Deputy Secretary-General Richard Boucher.  The keynote panel entitled “Privacy in the Context of the Internet -- Recording Everything and Forgetting Nothing?” featured GC Kerry, joined by Jennifer Stoddart, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada; Andrew Wyckoff, Director of Science, the Technology and Industry, OECD; and Marie Shroff, the Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand (as pictured from right to left). 

The group discussed a broad range of privacy principles and issues facing government officials and policy makers in both the private and public sectors.  In his remarks, Kerry expressed a desire to create a global environment that fosters meaningful tools to protect privacy.  He also focused on developing a policy that will create the trust that is necessary for consumers, industry and government to continue the innovation that has caused tremendous economic growth.  The first day of the conference then concluded with closing remarks from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

More information on the OECD Privacy Conference here.


General Counsel Kerry to co-chair new White House Subcommittee on Privacy

General Counsel Cameron F. Kerry will co-chair the White House Council’s new Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy with Assistant Attorney General Christopher Schroeder.

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to promoting the vast economic opportunity of the Internet and protecting individual privacy, the National Science and Technology Council has launched a new Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy. Populated by representatives from more than a dozen Departments, agencies and Federal offices, and co-chaired by the two of us, the subcommittee will develop principles and strategic directions with the goal of fostering consensus in legislative, regulatory, and international Internet policy realms.

Read More here.

Promoting Security and Protecting Privacy in the Digital Age

General Counsel Cameron F. Kerry TestifiesOn Wednesday, September 22, 2010, General Counsel Cameron Kerry testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Committee is holding a hearing on "The Electronic Communications Privacy Act: Promoting Security and Protecting Privacy in the Digital Age." General Counsel Kerry appeared on a panel with Associate Deputy Attorney General James A. Baker from the Department of Justice. 

General Counsel Kerry’s testimony reflects the work of the Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force on data privacy, cybersecurity, and other issues affecting the digital economy in the 21st Century.

General Counsel Kerry’s testimony reflects the work of the Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force on data privacy, cybersecurity, and other issues affecting the digital economy in the 21st Century.  The testimony discussed changes in the digital landscape since the Electronic Communications Privacy Act was enacted in 1986, especially in cloud computing, mobile phones, and location services.

Here is link to his prepared testimony (PDF).

NIST Software Security Patent to Help Improve Health IT Privacy

A computer security invention patented a decade ago at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is now poised to help safeguard patient privacy in hospitals. The invention—an algorithm that can be built into a larger piece of software—is designed to control access to information systems, and it has attracted the attention of a company that is putting it to use in the health care field. John Barkley, the algorithm’s creator, says the idea could solve one of the pervasive issues in the country’s health care system.

“We think this software will provide dramatically improved security and privacy to patients,” says Barkley, now retired from NIST’s Software and Systems Division and now consulting with Virtual Global, which is commercializing the product. “It solves the problem of overly broad access to patient information, which is widespread.”  Read more

Secretary Locke Announces Public Review of Privacy Policy, Launches Internet Policy Task Force

U.S. Department of Commerce seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced the launch of an initiative designed to gather public input and review the nexus between privacy policy and innovation in the Internet economy. In addition, Locke also announced the formation of a Department of Commerce-wide Internet Policy Task Force to identify leading public policy and operational issues impacting the U.S. private sector's ability to realize the potential for economic growth and job creation through the Internet. (More)

Secretary Locke Appears on "The Daily Show," Discusses 2010 Census

Locke and Stewart shown during interview. Click for larger image of screenshot.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke appeared on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and discussed the 2010 Census now underway. In the interview, Locke noted that the census is completely confidential. Information provided to the Census Bureau is protected by law from being shared with other federal, state and local agencies. Even the provisions of the Patriot Act do not override census privacy protections. He also noted that for every one percent increase in the number of people who mail back their census forms, taxpayers save about $85 million. (Video clip part 1, part 2)

Secretary Locke Highlights E-Commerce's Role in Growing the Economy

Locke on podium.

File Photo

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke highlighted the importance of electronic commerce to the U.S. economy in a keynote speech at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Locke underscored the department’s commitment to working with U.S. industry and consumer advocates to protect consumers’ privacy and security online. The three-day conference will bring together senior government officials, business representatives, civil society, international organizations and academics from OECD and non-member economies to discuss consumer protection issues in today’s Internet economy. (Remarks)

Census Bureau Launches 2010 Census Campaign with New Web Site

Marquee of Web site. Click to go to Web site.

The Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau kicked off its communications campaign to reach every resident in America with the launch of its 2010 Census Web site, The Web site will serve as a platform for a national dialogue about how the census develops a “Portrait of America.” “ puts the census in the hands of the public,” said Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves. “You can find out when you will get the form, and how to fill it out and mail it back. The site also provides a substantial amount of information regarding our commitment to privacy and confidentiality.” (More)