The White House released the National Privacy Research Strategy on Friday, which allows research on how people understand privacy, how to define privacy needs,  how to gain solutions to privacy issues, and how to diminish the consequences of privacy violations.

The improvements in computing and communications technologies create an increase in the collection of personal data. This has created advances in health care, the economy, and social interactions, changing the way citizens, corporations, and the government interacts.

The government recognizes the need for research and development on privacy-related technologies and science and hopes to create privacy measures while encouraging the expansion of technology.

“When information about people and their activities can be collected, analyzed, and repurposed in so many ways, it can create new opportunities for crime, discrimination, inadvertent disclosure, embarrassment, and harassment,” James Kurose and Keith Marzullo, Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program officials, wrote in a blog post. NITRD is a multiagency program.

The type of data collected about individuals, the way in which it is analyzed, and the uncertainty of its use is driving privacy concerns.

The strategy classifies the following priorities for privacy research:

  • Foster a multidisciplinary approach to privacy research and solutions;
  • Understand and measure privacy desires and impacts;
  • Develop system design methods that incorporate privacy desires, requirements, and controls;
  • Increase transparency of data collection, sharing, use, and retention;
  • Assure that information flows and use are consistent with privacy rules;
  • Develop approaches for remediation and recovery; and
  • Reduce privacy risks of analytical algorithms.

Agencies across the government developed the strategy by reviewing existing research, consulting the private sector, and identifying the main objectives for funding by the Federal government.

Although the government has implemented privacy legislation, the progress of these laws has not kept up with the increase in data collection, processing, and storage. In 2014, the U.S. government spent $80 million researching privacy concerns in health care, privacy regulation compliance, and multidisciplinary privacy explorations including computer security, but these efforts have not met their full potential, according to the NPRS.

The White House is also launching a Federal Privacy R&D Interagency Working Group, which will oversee the coordination of the Federal government’s privacy research efforts. One of the group’s first plans will be to host a workshop to discuss the strategic plan and explore the means of research.

The White House previously released other initiatives to improve privacy concerns such as the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights proposal, the Federal Privacy Council, and the report, “Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values.”

“With this strategy, our goal is to produce knowledge and technology that will enable individuals, commercial entities, and the Federal government to benefit from technological advancements and data use while proactively identifying and mitigating privacy risks,” Kurose and Marzullo wrote.

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Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Federal IT and K-12 Education.