Hyman & Kovacic Article on Who Should Do What on Privacy

David A. Hyman of Georgetown and William E. Kovacic of GW and , King's College London – The Dickson Poon School of Law have written Implementing Privacy Policy: Who Should Do What?. Here's the abstract:

Academic scholarship on privacy has focused on the substantive rules and policies governing the protection of personal data. An extensive literature has debated alternative approaches for defining how private and public institutions can collect and use information about individuals. But, the attention given to the what of U.S. privacy regulation has overshadowed consideration of how and by whom privacy policy should be formulated and implemented. 

U.S. privacy policy is an amalgam of activity by a myriad of federal, state, and local government agencies. But, the quality of substantive privacy law depends greatly on which agency or agencies are running the show. Unfortunately, such implementation-related matters have been discounted or ignored — with the clear implication that they only need to be addressed after the "real" work of developing substantive privacy rules is completed.

As things stand, the development and implementation of U.S. privacy policy is compromised by the murky allocation of responsibilities and authority among federal, state, and local governmental entities — compounded by the inevitable tensions associated with the large number of entities that are active in this regulatory space. These deficiencies have had major adverse consequences, both domestically and internationally. Without substantial upgrades of institutions and infrastructure, privacy law and policy will continue to fall short of what it could (and should) achieve.

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