NTIA Blog

Moving Forward with the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

February 29, 2012 by Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, NTIA

Last week the Obama Administration unveiled a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, part of a comprehensive blueprint to improve consumers’ privacy protections in the information age and promote the continued growth of the digital economy. These rights enumerate the specific protections that consumers should expect from companies that handle personal data, and set expectations for the companies that use personal data. While the Administration will work with Congress to enact legislation based on these rights, we are moving forward now to put these principles into practice.

At the request of the White House, NTIA will soon begin convening interested stakeholders -- including companies, privacy advocates, consumer groups, and technology experts -- to develop and implement enforceable codes of conduct that specify how the principles in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights apply in specific business contexts.

But first we want your input. We are seeking your views on what issues should be addressed through the privacy multistakeholder process and how to structure these discussions so they are open, transparent, and most productive.

As you will see in our Request for Public Comments, we think the first topic for stakeholder discussion should be a discrete issue that allows consumers and businesses to engage and conclude multistakeholder discussions in a reasonable timeframe. We list some options for an initial topic, including how to apply the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights’ Transparency principle to the privacy notices for mobile apps. We also invite commenters to discuss lessons learned from existing multistakeholder processes in the Internet policy and standards realms as we finalize the arrangements for the privacy discussions.

White House Unveils New Comprehensive Privacy Blueprint

February 23, 2012 by NTIA

The Obama Administration today unveiled a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” as part of a comprehensive blueprint to improve consumers’ privacy protections and ensure that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.

At the request of the White House, the Commerce Department’s NTIA will begin convening companies, privacy advocates and other stakeholders to develop and implement enforceable privacy policies based on the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

The report, “Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy,” resulted from a comprehensive review of the intersection of privacy policy and innovation in the Internet economy lead by the Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force.

White House to Honor NTIA Recovery Act Broadband Grantees as Innovators in Infrastructure

February 14, 2012 by

NTIA's Recovery Act broadband infrastructure projects  are connecting communities across the country to high-speed Internet, creating jobs, and supporting economic growth.

Tomorrow, the White House will recognize two individuals who helped develop and are now implementing broadband infrastructure projects that are key to revitalizing their communities. Joe Freddoso, President and CEO of MCNC, and Donald Welch, President and CEO of Merit Network Inc, will be among 11 local leaders honored at the White House as “Champions of Change” who are using innovative techniques to develop valuable projects helping to improve America’s infrastructure.

Merit Network and MCNC both received Recovery Act grants from NTIA for broadband infrastructure projects that are currently underway and connecting community anchor institutions, including schools, libraries, and hospitals, to high-speed Internet.  Under the leadership of Welch and Freddoso, Merit and MCNC have put hundreds of people to work and are laying the groundwork for sustainable economic growth and improved education, healthcare, and public safety. These projects emanated from the communities where they are being carried out; each project is designed to best meet the needs of local people and institutions and to get the biggest bang for every grant dollar. Merit’s project is serving Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsula, and MCNC is serving communities across North Carolina.

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Latino Business Leaders: Broadband is Key to a Strong Future

February 13, 2012 by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Anna M. Gomez
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Anna M. Gomez

Last week I attended a meeting of Latino business leaders, convened by the White House, to discuss how the broadband industry can grow the jobs of the future in the Latino community.

We often hear about an emerging skills gap in America and the urgent need for more graduates in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Business leaders recognize that to help address this challenge, particularly in the technology sector, broadband Internet access is a priority. Another key to growing a technology-skilled workforce is tackling the broadband adoption gap in the Latino community.  NTIA’s research shows that only 57 percent of Hispanic households had broadband service in 2010, which significantly lags behind the national rate. Even when adjusting for socioeconomic factors, like income and education, Hispanic households still trail White households in broadband adoption by 11 percentage points.

To encourage the next generation of computer programmers and information technology workers – and to help today’s workers better compete – broadband access at home and in schools is a vital first step. To help tackle this issue, NTIA is vigorously overseeing approximately 230 broadband projects nationwide. These projects, funded by the Recovery Act, are deploying new and upgraded broadband networks, extending broadband access to schools and other community anchor institutions, upgrading and expanding public computer centers, and providing free computer and job training for residents.

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BTOP Case Study Five: Bill Callahan, Connect Your Community Project Director, OneCommunity

February 10, 2012 by NTIA

As part of our BTOP series: Tales from the Front Lines, today we are highlighting Ohio sustainable broadband adoption grantee One Community.

OneCommunity, a non-profit broadband provider in Northeast Ohio, is using Recovery Act funding to expand innovative broadband adoption work it is doing in Cleveland and replicate the program in seven other communities in Ohio and four other states. The Connect Your Community (CYC) project provides computer classes and broadband training, as well as low-cost equipment and help finding affordable Internet access, to get low-income households online. One key to the program is the CYC Corps, a team of staffers hired in each community to teach computer and Internet basics to others, who are using those skills to look for jobs or even start their own businesses online. Working with eight local partners, OneCommunity says it is on track to produce 26,000 new broadband adopters. (OneCommunity is also using another Recovery Act award to upgrade and expand its fiber-optic network, which connects anchor institutions in Northeast Ohio).

Computer training at a public housing site in Lorain, Ohio.

BTOP Case Study Four: Andrew Buss, Director of Public Programs, Office of Innovation & Technology, City of Philadelphia

February 09, 2012 by NTIA

As part of our BTOP series: Tales from the Front Lines, today we are highlighting public computer centers in Philadelphia.

The City of Philadelphia is using a Recovery Act award to open or expand 77 computer centers in health and social service agencies, homeless shelters, affordable housing locations and recreation centers in low-income communities across the city. The project, led by Philadelphia's Office of Innovation & Technology, gives the city's most vulnerable residents access to everything from job postings to health information to educational resources on the Internet. It is part of a broader program called KEYSPOT, Powered by Freedom Rings Partnership. The partnership is a coalition of more than a dozen city agencies, grass-roots organizations and universities working to increase broadband adoption rates in Philadelphia. Another lead agency in the partnership, the Urban Affairs Coalition, is using a separate Recovery Act grant to teach digital literacy skills and provide workforce training in KEYSPOT computer centers. Working together, the two projects are providing online access, instruction and support to help all Philadelphia residents participate in today's wired society.

public computer center in West Philadelphia

A public computer center in West Philadelphia

BTOP Case Study Three: Mark Shlanta, CEO, SDN Communications

February 08, 2012 by NTIA

As part of our BTOP series: Tales from the Front Lines, today we are highlighting South Dakota infrastructure grantee SDN Communications.

SDN Communications, a partnership of 27 independent telecom providers covering 80 percent of South Dakota, is using a Recovery Act grant to expand its 1,850-mile, 300-gigabit-per-second fiber-optic network by another 360 miles and add an additional 100 gigabits of bandwidth along high-capacity routes. The project will enable SDN to deliver broadband speeds of at least 10 megabits per second to 300 anchor institutions that will be added to the network, including schools, libraries, hospitals, clinics, public safety agencies, government buildings and National Guard facilities. It will also deliver faster connections to more than 220 anchor institutions already on the system.

SDN construction crew at work

Shlanta said that in a rural state like South Dakota, broadband brings critical new opportunities in healthcare and education. Broadband allows patients who live in rural communities located far from big hospitals to consult with doctors and other healthcare specialists across the state. Broadband also allows school districts to share staff and resources by making it possible for students to remotely attend classes hosted by other districts. One institution that will get faster connections is the Telecommunications Lab at the Mitchell Technical Institute in Mitchell, S.D., which prepares students for careers in the telecom industry and is training workers to operate broadband networks such as those being built with BTOP funds.

BTOP Case Study Two: Susan Walters, Senior Vice President, California Emerging Technology Fund

February 07, 2012 by NTIA

As part of our BTOP series: Tales from the Front Lines, today we are highlighting California sustainable broadband adoption grantee CETF.

The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), a non-profit working to close the state's digital divide, is using a Recovery Act investment to provide computer, digital literacy and workforce training for low-income communities and other vulnerable populations. CETF works through 19 partners statewide, including non-profits that offer job training and career development services for the unemployed and homeless. Two of those organizations, Chrysalis in Southern California and The Stride Center in Northern California, are using Recovery Act funding to train clients in information technology skills and place graduates in IT positions. CETF also works with partners such as the Chicana Latina Foundation and Youth Radio, to raise awareness of the importance of broadband and ensure its programs serve California's diverse population - from Hispanic farm workers in the Central Valley to seniors in San Francisco's Chinatown. Classes are offered in Spanish, Chinese and other languages.

 

CETF Computer Lab

Chrysalis Computer Lab

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BTOP Case Study One: Joe Freddoso, President and Chief Executive, MCNC

February 06, 2012 by NTIA

As part of our BTOP series: Tales from the Front Lines, today we are highlighting North Carolina infrastructure grantee MCNC.

 

MCNC, a nonprofit broadband provider that operates the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), is using Recovery Act funds to deploy or upgrade 2,600 miles of fiber in rural areas across the state. The network will initially deliver speeds of 10 gigabits per second and eventually scale to a 100-gigabit-per-second middle-mile network. It will extend the reach of the existing NCREN system to connect nearly 2,700 additional anchor institutions, including libraries, hospitals and public safety facilities. The new network will also deliver faster and more reliable connections to K-12 schools, colleges and universities already on NCREN. And it will be an important source of dark fiber for commercial Internet providers that want to expand their own systems. MCNC's project is already creating construction jobs and jobs for local vendors such as CommScope in Hickory, N.C., which is supplying fiber and other materials. It is also laying the groundwork for economic revitalization in places such as Kannapolis, N.C., a former textile mill town that is reinventing itself as a biotechnology and life sciences hub.

 

Construction crew

MCNC construction crew at work.

 

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Tales from the front lines of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program

February 06, 2012 by NTIA

The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program is producing jobs, driving growth, providing tools for economic empowerment and improving lives across the country. That was the takeaway from a recent panel discussion at the annual State of the Net conference held in Washington, D.C. last month. The conference, which is organized by the Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus, explores the biggest technology policy issues of the day. This year’s conference included a panel devoted to BTOP, a Recovery Act program administered by NTIA that is investing in roughly 230 projects to increase broadband access and adoption around the country.

The BTOP infrastructure projects are bringing broadband to places where it’s lagging and supplying high-capacity connections to schools, hospitals and other anchor institutions that need more bandwidth. These projects are also spurring private-sector investment since local Internet providers can connect to these critical new "middle mile" facilities to serve more homes and businesses. The BTOP adoption programs are teaching computer and digital literacy skills, providing online job search and resume writing assistance, and even training people for technical jobs in the information-age economy. And the BTOP computer centers - located in schools, libraries and other public buildings - are providing broadband access for people who want to go online but lack the resources at home.

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