Policymakers Should Protect Data-Driven Innovation

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Contact: William Dube

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WASHINGTON – (August 5, 2014)  In comments filed today with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Center for Data Innovation argues that policymakers should avoid overreactions to fears about big data and instead focus on addressing concrete harms on a case-by-case basis, while otherwise encouraging data utilization and innovation.

“Data innovation is a tremendously useful tool that is revolutionizing numerous fields including health care, public safety, and social service delivery,” notes Daniel Castro, Director of the Center, which is an affiliate of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). “Unfortunately, policymakers are spending too much time worrying about fears that might never come to pass, rather than ensuring that we maximize the potential benefits of data today.”

The Center notes that data-driven innovation depends on at least three components— data quality, data exploration, and data reuse—and certain principles outlined in the Obama Administration’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights would hinder these components and interfere with numerous avenues for data innovation.

“Restrictions in the proposed Consumer Privacy Bills of Rights would place significant restraints on how data can be used,” says Castro. “These restrictions would severely curtail many of the expected economic and social benefits of data.”

The Center argues that government policy should instead focus on a responsible use framework, which would provide guidelines for appropriate handling and use of data with specific actions being taken if the guidelines are not followed. This would serve the dual purpose of helping hold companies accountable for harmful use while leaving them free to pursue beneficial applications.

“The reality is that data analytics is saving lives every day.” adds Castro. “But how many more lives could be saved if policymakers were to more vocally support these efforts?”

Read the comments.

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The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank whose mission is to formulate and promote public policies to advance technological innovation and productivity internationally, in Washington, and in the states. Recognizing the vital role of technology in ensuring prosperity, ITIF focuses on innovation, productivity, and digital economy issues. Learn more at www.itif.org.

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