Citing the success of its cybersecurity framework and the advent of IoT devices, artificial intelligence, and other technologies that are making it more challenging than ever for enterprises to protect their customers’ privacy, NIST has launched a collaborative project to develop a voluntary privacy framework. The NIST Privacy Framework project will kick off with a public workshop in Austin, Texas, on October 16, 2018. The workshop will also be live-streamed online, recorded, and posted on the NIST Privacy Framework website for future access.

NIST is launching its Privacy Framework project in an environment where consumers are growing increasingly concerned about what data enterprises are collecting from them, what they intend to do with it, and how securely they are storing and handling it. According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), 73% of internet-using U.S. households have data privacy and security concerns, and at least one-third have been deterred from certain online activities due to these fears.

Notably, in a project separate from the NIST Privacy Framework, the NTIA recently published a request for public comment in the Federal Register on a set of data privacy principles to inform a domestic legal and policy approach to consumer data privacy. The NTIA is seeking to develop “a set of user-centric privacy outcomes that underpin the protections that should be produced by any Federal actions on consumer-privacy policy, and a set of high-level goals that describe the outlines of the ecosystem that should be created to provide those protections.”

Stronger Data Privacy Laws Are Coming

The NIST Privacy Framework will be voluntary, but the NTIA’s request for public comment is a preliminary step that could ultimately lead to a federal data privacy law. The development of such a law will be a long and complex process, and whether the end result will amount to an “American GDPR” is debatable. However, one thing is certain: Stronger data privacy laws are coming.

Some states, notably California, have already taken matters into their own hands. The prospect of having to comply with 50 different state laws has softened large organizations’ views towards federal data privacy regulations. At last week’s Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, representatives from AT&T, Amazon, Twitter, Apple, and Charter Communications stated that they were open to a federal data privacy law, and Google published its own ideas for a data privacy framework prior to the Senate hearing.

The best way for enterprises to prepare for stricter data privacy legislation in the future is to practice proactive cyber security and solid data governance, compliance, and risk management now.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Peters is the CEO of Lazarus Alliance, Inc., the Proactive Cyber Security™ firm, and Continuum GRC. He has served as an independent information security consultant, executive, researcher, and author. He is an internationally recognized and awarded security expert with years of IT and business leadership experience and many previous executive leadership positions.

He has contributed significantly to curriculum development for graduate degree programs in information security, advanced technology, cyberspace law, and privacy, and to industry standard professional certifications. He has been featured in many publications and broadcast media outlets as the “Go-to Guy” for executive leadership, information security, cyberspace law, and governance.