In response to recent online threats that have put into question the level of security that one can expect while online, the President, Barack Obama, has recently given a speech laying out his plans to increase online security. Below is a synopsis of what President had to say.
One of the most noted proposals included in the President’s speech was in regards to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. This legislation is not something new, as it has been proposed in the past, but Obama is hoping to see a new version of the bill pass in Congress this year. This bill will not require companies to change their policies if it does pass, but if a company agrees to the terms and then fails to act accordingly they will be able to be held accountable by the Federal Trade Commission. What this means for consumers is that there will be more companies that will give the option to opt out of information sharing, data collection and will inform consumers of protections used to keep personal identifying information safe.
Data Breaches & Identity Theft Prevention
Another aspect of online security that was touched on by the president was in regards to creating legislation that will require companies to notify consumers if there has been a data breach. There was not a great deal of specifics, but the general idea is to ensure that consumers are informed when their personal data may have been put at risk. Currently this is overseen by each state, so depending on where one may reside, they may not be notified at all. There are some states that already have this type of legislation, but the goal is to make this a federal law to close any gaps that currently exist.
He also discussed making free credit scores accessible to more Americans. The reason for this is that you can use this as a means of identifying any financial fraud that may be occurring in your name without your knowledge. The President believes this expansion will allow significantly more Americans to get their credit score for free at least once each year.
Data Collection Concerns Regarding Children
A new concern in online privacy is to protect children. Due to the increase of internet usage by children for educational purposes there is a concern that companies are compiling information about these children to use as a means to market to them in the future. Some of this information can include their address, birth date and in some cases even their address. It is not clear yet what any new legislation would specify, but the President’s general statement was to allow data collection for educational purposes.
One aspect of his proposal that may seem surprising is to limit the means in which utility companies collect and share information about individual’s home energy usage. The reason that this has recently become a concern is that the energy technology has gotten so smart that you can turn down your heat or turn off lights when you are not at home, as well as set your systems to function at lower energy levels when you are usually away. The issue here is that if this information were to be hacked into or shared with the wrong people, it could become quite clear when you are usually away from home, putting you at risk.
These are the main points of the speech given by the President about increasing internet security for Americans. This speech was relatively short given the importance of the legislation that he is proposing. He did state that you should expect more information in his State of the Union address.