Enforcing Privacy: Building American Institutions to Protect Privacy in the Face of New Technology and Government Powers

Document Date: November 10, 2009


Privacy laws are of limited value if institutions for enforcing such laws do not exist. The United States, unlike nearly every other advanced-industrial nation, does not have an independent data protection official or privacy commissioner to fill that role. We recommend that Congress take several steps to bridge this gap:

1. Activate the independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) and expand its scope and powers to turn it into a full-fledged privacy body with oversight of all government agencies.

2. Supplement the strengthened PCLOB with multiple overlapping layers of privacy protection, by creating a statutorily mandated Privacy Advisor within the White House’s OMB, and bolstering and expanding federal agency privacy offices.

3. Create an independent federal privacy commission to serve as a full- fledged private-sector privacy regulator.

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