Privacy Report Card: Obama admin is all over map

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The Obama Administration didn’t fare as well as last year in the 2010 privacy report card from public interest research center Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

Compared to 2009’s A- grade for medical privacy, the administration dropped to a B in 2010. The Washington, D.C.-based organization attributed this grade to actions including the White House preparing to endorse a “weak data breach notification rule but [then backing off]." In addition, EPIC stated that privacy experts are underrepresented on key committees and the willingness of the White House to press for strong safeguards for patients remains unclear.

EPIC suggested the White House “needs to show more effort” with millions of patient records moving online. “This has been a strong subject for the administration in the past. It can be so again.”

The Obama administration didn’t change its B grade from 2009’s report card in the subject of cybersecurity. “One of the most difficult subjects for any administration is preserving the openness of the internet while protecting the country against genuine cyber threats. ... [We] see a continued effort by the administration to safeguard privacy rights for internet users, but we also note the growing influence of the National Security Agency (NSA).”

The center said that they believe the White House could raise its grade in this field by being more transparent about the role of the NSA in cybersecurity. “Releasing key documents about the NSA’s cybersecurity authority would be a good start,” the organization wrote.

EPIC also gave the administration a grade of C in consumer privacy (compared with 2009’s “Incomplete”) and a D in civil liberties, down from last year’s C+.