Privacy Advisor

Former U.S. Rep Bono Joins Leibowitz to Co-Chair New Privacy Coalition

June 27, 2013

By Angelique Carson, CIPP/US

A group of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies have founded the 21st Century Privacy Coalition, Adweek reports. The coalition will be co-chaired by former Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz and former U.S. Rep Mary Bono.

Founding members include AT&T, Comcast, CTIA-The Wireless Association, Directv, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and the U.S. Telecom Association.

In an exclusive interview with the IAPP, Bono said the coalition has nothing to do with the recent NSA revelations and has in fact been in the works for some time, dating back to when she was still serving as chairwoman for the Subcommittee of Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.

“It was clear there was a need,” she said. “I look at it from a consumer’s point of view. When it comes to privacy law and data security laws, consumers shouldn’t have to figure out who is protecting their interests with data or with their information just based upon how they log on to communicate with other people. And I think it’s important both for consumer protection as well as for innovation that we put some common sense into this.”

The group, which will be open to anyone interested in advancing consumer privacy and innovation, Bono said, will aim to amend legislation or push for legislation in order to serve the best interest of consumers.

It’s a tricky subject, she said, so all hands on deck.

“There’s no black or white in this area; there’s no right and wrong,” she said. “But decisions that are made can create jobs or stifle jobs. Decisions that are made can help consumers or hurt consumers. And there’s no clear blueprint forward. It deserves a lot of attention, a lot of discourse and a lot of dialogue.”

Bono has a lobbying ban for a year and so will not be working to sway members of Congress toward a particular direction, but says she will work to advance the discussion in the public space and looks forward to being a part of panels and conversations around the country on data protection. 

The group currently has weekly calls scheduled to determine next steps. While there’s no one pressing issue the group is chomping at the bit to tackle, Bono says she plans to continue to meet with stakeholders to identify goals and objectives.

She said it is important to her and Leibowitz, who she says she’s thrilled to work with, to get the word out that the two had signed on “rather than have it trickle out that we’re a part of this. And now the work begins to identify our pathway forward.”

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