We see the future growth of technology moving toward a computing continuum. Specifically, computing is moving in a direction where an individual’s applications and data will move as that person moves through his or her day. The person will wake to having data on a certain device in his or her home, will transition to a car that has access to those applications and data, will have access at work, and then will access the data and applications after work either at home or while socializing. To manage these applications and data, the individual will use a wide assortment of digital devices including servers, laptop computers, tablets, televisions and handheld PCs. Much of the individual’s data will be remotely stored off of the devices and individuals need to not only be able to trust the technology they will use, but also the data custodians.  

Currently, individuals do not understand how the technology or the data services process or use their data. Intel and other technology companies are changing this by designing user experiences which will allow the individual to be in control of their data and which have robust security protections to guard that data. However, it is unfair to put all of the burden on the individual. The law must create a baseline so that malicious actors cannot take advantage of situations where individuals cannot be expected to understand how the data is processed. Individuals gain substantial benefits from the Internet content and services funded by targeted advertising. However, there are significant concerns about how the profile data may be transferred to other organizations or used for other purposes.  

For these reasons, Intel has long supported the passage of comprehensive U.S. federal privacy legislation, as this is a fundamental mechanism for providing individuals with an environment where they can trust their use of technology. We disagree with the notion that privacy legislation would stifle innovation and would hinder the growth of new technologies by small businesses. Instead, we believe that well-crafted legislation can actually enable small business e-commerce growth, by helping provide an environment where individuals can have confidence in those companies they would like to engage with over the Internet.

At Intel, we believe that consumer data protection is best addressed by both policy and technology. We are encouraged by the inclusion of the fair information practices principle, “Privacy by Design” (a principle that encourages companies to build privacy protections into technology) will allow for creative solutions to increase the level of privacy in the use of technology. “Privacy by Design”, could create an affirmative obligation for companies to integrate privacy questions into their development lifecycles, but would provide flexibility for innovators to do what they do best, which is to solve problems.   

We applaud the administration for also coming out in support of privacy legislation. The Department of Commerce recently testified before Congress that the administration supports legislation based on a comprehensive set of fair information practice principles and collaboration with industry to develop codes of conduct. The department has been a leader in the development of privacy policy. We thank the administration for taking this position and look forward to further working with them to implement their proposals.

We believe that now is the time for federal privacy legislation. Senators Kerry and McCain’s bill has drawn from excellent work that was done in the last Congress and is in line with the administration’s proposals. Intel supports the Kerry-McCain bill and encourages all stakeholders to engage in robust and productive discussion about the bill. Providing a baseline set of protections to ensure consumer trust is the only way that the Internet and ecommerce will continue to grow and help drive innovation in the economy.

David Hoffman is director of security policy and global privacy officer at Intel Corporation.