Yes, We Can Protect the Nation, Advance the Global Economy, and Respect Civil Liberties

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By Yael Weinman, ITI, and David LeDuc, SIIA

We’ve all read the news stories and are concerned by the reports of how the U.S. government collects data for surveillance purposes. Our members, the world’s leading information technology companies, work to protect their customers’ privacy as they provide them with innovative products and services.  We are committed to working in partnership with others involved in these discussions on how to achieve greater transparency and provide appropriate protections in the government’s operations.

That’s why SIIA and ITI have joined together to provide the White House’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology with a set of tangible policy recommendations that the review group members should consider as they examine the government’s intelligence-gathering programs.

We believe that there are clear steps that the U.S. government can take to incorporate better privacy and civil liberty practices without compromising the government’s responsibility to also protect the nation. These steps start with a greater commitment to transparency and oversight.  In taking these steps, the U.S. government can be a pacesetter in transparency, accountability, and privacy protections.  Our proposals for the review group are based on three principles:

  • Economic security and national security are deeply connected;
  • Security can be advanced in a privacy-protective manner; and,
  • Restoring trust, both domestically and internationally, must be a driving force for the review group’s work.

The U.S. government must take action to regain the public trust, as the repercussions for U.S. businesses operating globally will be significant.  Already, major trading partners like Brazil and the European Union are considering strict measures that would begin to unravel the global economy by forcing companies wanting to operate within their borders to house all operations there or restrict the transfer of data outside their jurisdiction.  That’s a prescription for a balkanized (and broken) worldwide economy.

Through discussions with the broader business community, privacy organizations, the government, and others, the tech sector will continue to look for policy prescriptions to these challenges.

David David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.