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Obama to call for '30-day shot clock' on stolen consumer data, protections for student privacy

Obama to call for '30-day shot clock' on stolen consumer data, protections for student privacy

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President Obama will call for new legislation this week protecting data belonging to consumers and students in the US. The Personal Data Notification and Protection Act would demand that hacked American companies inform customers within 30 days if their data has been stolen, while the Student Data Privacy Act would stop tech firms from profiting from information collected from digital education products (e.g. tablets used in the classroom or online homework portals).

Obama's focus on digital issues follows a year of high-profile hacks

Obama is expected to announce these schemes in full during a visit today to the Federal Trade Commission reports The New York Times. The president will be highlighting cybersecurity and privacy issues as key topics ahead of his State of the Union address on January 20th. The focus on digital issues follows a year of high-profile cases including massive hacks on companies such as Sony and Target and a running battle between telecoms, tech companies, and consumers for control over the internet.

"As cybersecurity threats and identity theft continue to rise, recent polls show that 9 in 10 Americans feel they have in some way lost control of their personal information — and that can lead to less interaction with technology, less innovation, and a less productive economy," said a White House briefing document seen by the Times. Proposed laws would see the discovery of a data breach trigger a "30-day shot clock" for companies to inform affected customers. Additional voluntary legislation would protect home energy data and create an "early warning system" for identity theft. The Times also notes that new laws will make it a crime to sell "cyberinformation" belonging to US citizens overseas.

In a separate speech in Iowa on Wednesday, Obama is expected to address the issue of internet access, pitching new initiatives to roll out affordable, high-speed broadband across the country. Some commentators are also predicting that the president will use his upcoming State of the Union address to reiterate calls to reclassify the internet as a utility. In a speech in November last year, the president asked the Federal Communications Commission to introduce stronger legislation stopping telecom companies from creating a tiered system of internet access. Although Obama has no direct control over internet legislation, his influential State of the Union address is scheduled to take place a little more than a month before the FCC votes on new proposals on February 26th.

Update 12:50PM ET: The White House has published a fact sheet confirming the report. Besides the two bills, it includes news about various private-sector consumer protection agreements. The Personal Data Notification and Protection Act is accompanied by expanded options for seeing free credit scores, and the Student Digital Privacy Act appears alongside an announcement that 75 education-related companies have signed a "student privacy pledge." This appears to be an agreement that was first introduced late last year, requiring signatories to refrain from selling student data, provide clear notice of privacy policy changes, and limit data retention, among other things.