State AG Monitor

AGs Encouraged to Take More Action on Data Privacy at NAAG Presidential Initiative Summit

Posted in Data Privacy

Earlier this week, more than 20 Attorneys General (AGs) and senior AG staff gathered at National Harbor, Maryland to learn about “Privacy in the Digital Age,” the Presidential Initiative Summit topic of Maryland Attorney General and current National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) President Doug Gansler. This summit was part of a year-long focus on the issue of data privacy by NAAG, during which AGs and their staffs discussed and debated a variety of issues related to data privacy and cybersecurity. Given the heightened interest in these issues, that focus likely will continue, both by NAAG and by individual AGs.

Attendees at the Summit heard from speakers representing business interests, state and federal enforcement and regulatory agencies, academia, and consumer advocacy groups on a variety of topics, such as:

1) protecting business and government from cyber-risks (including cyber-criminals, cyber-terrorists, and “hacktivists,” among others);

2) how to protect the privacy of consumers, especially children, on the Internet, and whether the proper method to do so is industry “self-regulation” or through direct intervention by state and federal regulators;

3) “big data” and its impact on consumer privacy; and

4) the relationship between market power and consumer privacy.

Although numerous viewpoints were represented, one of the largest takeaways was the request for AGs to be more active enforcers of consumer data privacy, coming both from consumer advocates and current and former federal regulators. If businesses have not already been put on alert by the recent activity by Maryland AG Gansler and California AG Kamala Harris, this conference and the focus that it will generate from AGs should serve as another wake-up call that data privacy is an important and relevant issue. Companies that are not buttoned up on data privacy will likely face scrutiny from both state and federal regulators.