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The Privacy Advisor | Intel launches online portal for consultation on its US federal privacy law Related reading: US political parties may seek unified privacy approach following midterms

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The push for a comprehensive federal U.S. privacy law continues to grow. Senate committees have held hearings and lawmakers have drafted bills, all in the hopes of producing the definitive set of rules.

Intel has now become the latest entity to throw its proposal into the ring. The tech company has released a draft bill for a federal law it hopes would regulate consumer privacy without impacting innovation. Intel did not just release a draft bill, however, but also an online portal where, until Nov. 19, privacy professionals and the public can discuss the merits of the proposed rules and where improvements could be made.

The draft bill is divided into 12 sections about topics including the enforcement authority the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Attorney General would have under the proposal, the kind of oversight that should be applied to third parties and specific privacy practices data management organizations would need to have in place to comply. 

Intel’s online portal allows privacy professionals to communicate about the inner workings of the draft bill. Intel Associate General Counsel and Global Privacy Officer David Hoffman, CIPP/US, said he has so far been able to recruit some of the top minds in privacy to comment on the legislation.

Contributors thus far include IAPP Vice President and Chief Knowledge Officer Omer Tene, Alston & Bird Senior Counsel Peter Swire, CIPP/US, Future of Privacy Forum CEO Jules Polonetsky, CIPP/US, Groman Consulting Group Privacy & Data Protection Advisor Marc Groman, CIPP/US, and World Privacy Forum Founder & Executive Director Pam Dixon.

The last section of the online portal allows members of the public to interact with Hoffman and other privacy professionals to voice their feedback on the draft bill.

Hoffman and his staff have participated in many closed-door discussions with different entities about what a federal privacy law should look like and whether one is necessary, Hoffman said, adding he found a lot of those conversations were not as productive as they could have been.

“They were closed discussions so the greater public wasn’t getting a chance to provide feedback and understand what kinds of trade-offs people were potentially making,” said Hoffman. “Most of those discussions didn’t allow for people to talk about specific bill language in a way that you can have thoughtful dialogue about how it will actually protect privacy.”

Hoffman wanted the name of the game to be participatory democracy. The Intel privacy officer noted public policy has been handled the same way for the last 25 years, all the way back when his career started. But with this collaborative portal, allowing the public to have its say in the creation of the law, privacy professionals and lawmakers might have their eyes opened to issues they hadn't necessarily considered prior.

“We want this to be participatory democracy, not just the public viewing a bunch of experts talking about it,” Hoffman said. “What I'm going to do is participate in the public dialogue, but also take elements from the public dialogue and bring that into the expert discussion. So if people in the public dialogue are saying they don’t like the way we’ve done use-limitations, we can see if we can try and change that.”

After Nov. 19, Intel will gather all of the feedback and produce a second version, which Hoffman hopes will be ready by December. From there, Intel will promote the legislation in various spaces as well as host public panels and discussions with stakeholders throughout 2019.

Hoffman does not expect the whole process to be smooth sailing. One of Intel’s goals is to make sure privacy does not hinder innovation. For example, Intel’s bill differs from the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 by moving away from data minimization. Hoffman said data minimization can hurt both innovation and privacy. He cited cybersecurity as an example of where more data enhances data protection, in that networks are better suited to guard information when they can identify patterns in the data, and to do that, you need the data itself.

Hoffman believes some will feel Intel’s law places too much responsibility on the companies that collect data, while other parties will call for even tighter restrictions. Then there’s the fact that the bill would preempt any other state privacy laws, including the CCPA.

“We think that 50 conflicting state standards that probably result in organizations to design the most restrictive practices on the collection and use of data is bad for individuals, bad for the economy and bad for our society,” Hoffman said.

In the end, making everyone happy with any single proposal is rarely possible. But with Intel's online portal, Hoffman hopes everyone will get a chance to have their voice heard as the U.S. moves one step closer to a comprehensive privacy law.

And given all the noise that has been made in 2018, it is not a matter of if, but when, he said.

“If we don’t have a comprehensive U.S. privacy law in the next 24 months, I’d be both very surprised and disappointed,” Hoffman said.

photo credit: Geoff Livingston US Capitol via photopin (license)

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