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Point: Protecting privacy should be federal government’s job

Cameron F. Kerry | November 27, 2018

America has a checkerboard of laws to protect privacy and data—a matrix of federal and state statutes, common law decisions, and public and private enforcement. This body of laws has real strengths but, as an information Big Bang explodes the data universe, there are growing gaps. It is time for the federal government to set a consistent baseline for privacy protection across the country.

The current checkerboard covers specific sectors or categories of data. These address much of the most sensitive data, such as heath and financial records, genetic information, and data from children. And broad enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general aimed at breaches of privacy and data security have done much to strengthen business privacy practices.

But today, most of the data we generate through web searches, social media, e-commerce, and smartphone apps falls outside these sectors and categories. Widespread deployment of connected devices in...

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