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Online Privacy Vital for US Investment, Innovation, Says Genachowski

juliusIn testimony before yesterday’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing on online privacy, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski highlighted how privacy is critical for promoting investment and innovation that help promote global competitiveness and improve everyday lives.

“The right to privacy is central to our nation’s values and way of life, and the Federal Communications Commission has long worked to implement Congress’s directive to protect the privacy of consumers who rely on our nation’s communications infrastructure,” he said.

FCC’s goals when it comes to privacy are to make sure consumers know how to control how their information is used; that providers are transparent about their practices; and that personal data is handled in a way that protects consumers, the chairman said.

“In some respects, the Internet presents unique privacy challenges, but these principles remain the starting point for protecting consumer privacy,” he noted.

The Communications Act includes several key provisions on consumer privacy, including requiring telecommunications carriers to protect information about whom consumers communicate with, how long they used the network, and their location when they use wired or wireless services. Sections 338 and 631 of the act provide corresponding protections for users of services provided over cable and satellite systems.

Genachowski also highlighted the National Broadband Plan, which, according to the chairman, “recognizes that promoting both broadband and privacy are key to harnessing the opportunities of the Internet.”

The chairman also took the opportunity to speak about ongoing and future education and transparency initiatives, including a collaboration between the Federal Trade Commission to kick off a consumer education campaign for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and a new online Consumer Help Center that launched yesterday.

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