Are We A Nation of Data Hoarders and Peepers?

Jon Potter testifying at the data encryption and cybersecurity hearing on April 29. 

Jon Potter testifying at the data encryption and cybersecurity hearing on April 29. 

Recently Apps Alliance President, Jon Potter, testified in Congress, opposing FBI and NSA requests that apps and mobile devices provide encryption “Back Doors” for them to circumvent privacy-protection technologies.  Today, the Alliance sent a letter to Congress reinforcing our support of privacy and consumer trust, and opposing a new proposal that would require all digital businesses to permanently retain consumer data in case law enforcement should ever want to review it.

The USA Patriot Act’s authorization of bulk data collection is set to expire in June. As Congress is contemplating terminating government’s almost limitless authority to tap telephones and data networks, some U.S. Senators have proposed an alternative solution: that all digital businesses (phone companies, websites, e-commerce companies, apps, etc.) be required to store all data about consumers and generated by consumers in perpetuity, just in case the FBI or NSA want to review it at any point in the future.  For several reasons outlined in a letter delivered this morning to U.S. Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Reid, the Alliance objects to this unlimited, costly and risky data protection mandate:

  • Building and retrofitting vastly larger data systems is very costly, and operating larger data systems will tax all companies data processing operations and particularly small companies’ operations.
  • Data stored in perpetuity:
    •  Will invite more data requests from the NSA, law enforcement, private plaintiffs in the U.S., as well as international governments and plaintiffs.
    •  Will attract even more hackers and cyberthieves that companies will need to combat.
  • Data storage mandates will put businesses at risk of violating international data privacy rules, which often promote data deletion.
  • Data storage mandates will unilaterally upset data practices that companies have developed over several years, and which carefully balance data retention, innovation and security.

Congress has been discussing and debating digital wiretap laws for more than 20 years, and the Patriot Act renewal deadline has been approaching for several months. Congress should not address some officials’ concerns by imposing last-minute and barely-considered expensive and risky mandates on digital businesses – our nation’s fastest growing sector.

Read Jon Potter’s testimony here.

Read the Apps Alliance letter on data retention here. 

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Authored by: 

Jon Potter, Apps Alliance President & Co-Founder