Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On White House Big Data Review and Reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act

I commend the Obama administration on its review and its careful consideration of both the costs and benefits of “big data.” In particular, I welcome the President’s support of bipartisan legislation that I have authored to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).  Since its enactment three decades ago, advances in technologies and the way we communicate has far outpaced the privacy considerations that ECPA sought to accomplish.  I am working with Senator Lee and many others in Congress to update this law for the digital age.  We are joined by a diverse coalition of more than 100 organizations from across the ideological spectrum who support common sense reform.  It is clear that momentum is on the side of reform, and now it is time for the Congress to respond.

In addition to privacy concerns, I am alarmed by reports of discrimination based on an individual’s personal data. Given the recent housing crisis, and the discrimination related to foreclosure abuses, I also applaud administration’s recommendation that the government expand and develop strategies to combat predatory behavior.

Finally, I welcome the call for national data breach legislation.  I have introduced the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act, S. 1897, to establish a single nationwide standard for data breach notification and require businesses to implement data security programs so that data breaches do not happen in the first place.

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