With Data Privacy Day (January 28) approaching, I have been thinking about how the power of data has changed our lives. We have so much at our fingertips. I can find the least congested route to drive home at night; I keep in touch with my 21 and 23-year-old sons through texts, photos and apps; and before I get into my rideshare to take me from SFO into the city for the Data Privacy Day event next week, I can see how many rides the driver has taken and the driver’s rating. The possibilities seem limitless. While the benefits consumers receive from sharing their data are undeniable, we need to ensure that private information is used appropriately. Otherwise, consumers like me will be reluctant to try new technologies, and we are likely to see an erosion of the benefits of these new technologies. That’s why it is critically important to develop comprehensive federal privacy legislation in the United States.
At Verizon, this is not a new issue. Even back in 2011, it was clear to us that rapid innovation and convergence of technologies was placing too much pressure on the existing policy approach to privacy. That’s why even then, and ever since, we have advocated for a federal consumer privacy law. Today’s headlines and new laws being put into place have thrust this conversation into the limelight once again, and we must seize this opportunity.
Forward-looking federal consumer privacy legislation will provide certainty to businesses and consumers alike. It will empower consumers to make the choices that are right for them, and it will help businesses understand that with great data comes great responsibility.
We are encouraged by all the activity we are seeing stressing the importance of enacting federal privacy legislation. Leaders in industry, consumer groups and members of Congress have all expressed genuine interest in legislation and there appears to be a path forward. There is an urgency to moving legislation forward now. At Verizon, we are part of the momentum and are urging Congress to take action. Legislation must be targeted to meet consumers’ expectations, to take account of changing technological realities, and to inspire easy-to-understand practices. At the same time, privacy legislation must be able to withstand the advances and innovations that are around the corner and beyond. Verizon has outlined the principles most critical to be incorporated into a federal privacy law.
Data Privacy Day 2019 is an opportunity here in the United States to further chart a way forward on comprehensive federal privacy legislation. Let’s all roll up our sleeves and get to work so that on Data Privacy Day 2020, we can thank the 116th Congress for doing what’s right for consumers and for passing a new law that will ensure consumer trust and the continued ability for consumers to keep marveling about all that technology has to offer to improve our lives.