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United States Privacy Digest | Notes from the IAPP Publications Editor, Nov. 16, 2018 Related reading: Notes from the IAPP Publications Editor, Dec. 14, 2018

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Greetings from a wintry Portsmouth, NH!

Just weeks after our clocks "fell" back and little under a week until Thanksgiving, we've already been coated with the season's first snowy Nor'easter. Sigh. Alas, I haven't even finished raking the leaves or stacking the wood yet! 

That said, developments in U.S. privacy law are far from frozen. Earlier this week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration released the comments it received. Let me tell you, there are a lot of them — 214 to be exact. The range of organizations and individuals is impressive. The list includes industry — both trade group representation and some individual companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, General Electric, to name but a few — privacy advocacy and civil society, and academia and researchers, among others. Significantly, the Federal Trade Commission and European Commission each submitted feedback. Heck, even the IAPP filed comments with the aim of following our mission to define, support and improve the privacy profession globally. 

The sheer amount of submissions demonstrates the breadth, collective interest in and importance of developing a potential U.S. federal privacy law. Deciphering where stakeholders agree and disagree, however, will be the key to understanding what's possible. I can assure you, we're looking into these comments to find some of the consensus and gaps. Though it's no small task! 

It will be interesting to see what the NTIA comes up with, though I think we'll all have to be a bit patient, knowing how much content they must now sift through. 

With the midterms now behind us, new leadership is being forged both in the House and Senate. Will Nancy Pelosi return as House Speaker or will some of the new Democratic upstarts take over? Who will get coveted committee chairmanships? These will play significant parts in any development of privacy legislation. 

As will lobbying. Bloomberg reported on changes to K Street this week, and among the topics of note is ... yeah, you guessed it: privacy. Trade groups and businesses are busy seeking ties to new leadership and their staff. "As Democrats emerge from eight years in the minority," the article notes, "companies and trade groups are searching for experienced hands to tackle a new agenda that could win bipartisan support, including infrastructure, drug pricing and tech privacy, lobbying experts said." 

Of course, the Democrats will exercise some of their newly acquired oversight muscle, particularly with the White House. Will a fight against President Donald Trump over the Mueller investigation, his taxes and other policy issues prevent any bipartisanship in the Beltway? There are signs some cooperation is possible, particularly with regard to infrastructure spending and possibly privacy and regulation of tech companies. 

As we gather with family over next week's holidays, I hope the conversation will remain civil. Maybe we can all find common ground. Or maybe we should just keep politics away from the dinner table. In the meantime, the U.S. Privacy Digest will take a week off, but we'll be back full force in two weeks. 

Finally, before I go, I want to send our thoughts to the people of California who are suffering from these terrible wildfires. So much of the big media is headquartered out here in the Eastern Seaboard. If we have a hurricane, it's all the news covers. I suspect we here in the East don't realize how bad these fires are. Judging from what I'm seeing on Twitter and through my friends on Facebook, this is an emergency of epic proportions. To our friends in the Golden State, our condolences. Be safe.

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