In one of its final acts in office, on January 17, 2017, the Obama Administration released a report on privacy entitled “Privacy in our Digital Lives: Protecting Individuals and Promoting Innovation.”

The report recounts key actions taken by the administration over the past eight years to protect consumer privacy, including:

  • redesigning the FTC website to provide resources to victims of identity theft;
  • supporting the FCC in issuing broadband consumer privacy rules that require broadband providers to obtain affirmative consent from customers to use and share sensitive proprietary information;
  • publishing best practices for operating drones that take into account privacy considerations;
  • helping the FTC modernize COPPA regulations in order to address changes in technology and protect children’s interests; and
  • working with ed-tech companies to limit the collection and sharing of student data.

The report also highlights the administration’s accomplishments with regard to international privacy, including the establishment of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework to facilitate cross-border data transfers in the wake of the invalidation of the Safe Harbor Framework, and the signing of the Data Protection and Privacy Agreement to promote cooperation of international law enforcement while protecting the privacy rights of EU and U.S. citizens.

In addition, the report identifies seven areas requiring further attention, designed to guide policymakers in the coming years. As articulated in the report:

  • technology will create new challenges to privacy and security, and policymakers will need to reevaluate whether consumers have sufficient transparency and education to make informed choices;
  • technology will pose new challenges and opportunities for law enforcement and national security, and policymakers will need to consider all equities in allowing law enforcement to access data, including public safety, cybersecurity, freedom of speech, human rights, personal privacy, and economic competitiveness;
  • privacy will become more global in value, and policymakers will need to push for privacy and data protection principles, freedom of expression, and the free flow of information;
  • privacy will become more important to U.S. citizens, and policymakers will need to encourage civic participation on policies impacting consumer privacy;
  • innovation and technology will impact all sectors of the U.S. economy, and the government will need to hire more privacy professionals to address privacy challenges;
  • public trust will depend on government transparency, and policymakers will need to take measures to ensure that government agencies use information appropriately and responsibly; and
  • privacy will continue to be a bipartisan issue, and both Democrat and Republican policymakers will need to create strong policies that protect their constituents.

The report, originally posted to the White House website, was removed from the website following the inauguration of President Trump. We will continue to monitor and report on privacy developments under the new Trump Administration.