Fed board discusses Privacy Act makeover

Government and industry privacy experts met today to discuss a policy and legal framework for updating the 1974 Privacy Act. A few noted that 30 years have produced new technologies and threats that were not foreseen when the law was enacted.

Members of the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board (ISPAB) proposed coordinating their efforts with the Homeland Security Department’s Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee. Both committees advise federal agencies that are responsible for privacy policies and regulations.

Franklin Reeder, ISPAB’s chairman, said he doesn’t know of any lawmakers who are eager right now to undertake a sweeping review of federal information privacy laws. “What we see on the legislative front are a lot of shotgun solutions,” largely in response to a series of security breaches involving commercial databases, he said.

But Reeder said advisory committees, such as ISPAB and DHS’ privacy committee, could play a useful role by creating a framework of new policy ideas about data privacy. “When the political system decides it wants to do something, it will at least have something to go to,” he said.

ISPAB members gathered in Rockville, Md., today for the opening session of a two-and-a-half day meeting on current information security and privacy issues.

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