Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy Commemorating Data Privacy Day

MR. PRESIDENT, I join privacy advocates, industry leaders and Government officials from across our Nation in celebrating ‘Data Privacy Day 2011’ -- a day to raise awareness about data privacy practices and rights. 

Today, Americans from all walks of life reap the countless benefits of the Internet and the latest technological advances.  But, with these many rewards, comes growing uncertainty and unease about how sensitive personal information is collected, shared and stored. 

In the Digital Age, our Nation faces the difficult challenge of protecting our computer networks from cyber threats.  At the same time, we must encourage American innovation and respect privacy rights. 

Data Privacy Day provides an important opportunity to remind all Americans about how essential privacy is to our daily lives.  This day is also a time for us in Congress to remember the important work that we must complete to better protect digital privacy rights.  As the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will continue to do my part. 

This year, I will continue -- and hopefully complete -- work on bipartisan data privacy legislation that will better protect Americans’ sensitive personal data and reduce the risk of data security breaches.  The Senate Judiciary Committee has favorably reported my Personal Data Privacy and Security Act three times.  We must finish this pressing work during the 112th Congress and finally enact comprehensive data privacy legislation.

I will also continue the important work that the Judiciary Committee began during the last Congress to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), so that our digital privacy laws keep pace with the Information Age.  When I first wrote ECPA in the mid-1980s, no one could have imagined the technological advances and threats to digital privacy that we see today.  Updating this law to reflect the realities of our time is essential to keeping us safe from cyber threats and critical to ensuring that our federal privacy laws keep pace with advancing technologies.  The year ahead will also present opportunities to study emerging privacy issues, such as the use of full body scanners at our airports and threats to online privacy.

The 112th Congress affords all of us in Congress an opportunity to make sure that this universal right to be left alone remains viable in the digital age.

I commend the many stakeholders and leaders from across the Nation who are holding events to commemorate Data Privacy Day.  I look forward to working with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, and in both Chambers, on legislation to better protect the privacy rights of all Americans.

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