By Jeff Brueggeman, AT&T Vice President of Public Policy and Deputy Chief Privacy Officer

Collaboration, consensus and consistency are key design principles in developing good public policy.  And we’re encouraged that a white paper issued yesterday by President Obama’s Administration embraces those principles.

All of us have a stake in the Internet ecosystem – whether it’s companies that provide connectivity or communications services, governments, app developers, small and large businesses and average consumers, who are constantly finding new and innovative ways to enhance their lives using the Internet.

That’s why it’s critically important that we approach Internet privacy from a holistic perspective that reassures consumers their privacy is protected whenever they use the Internet, regardless of platform or service provider.

At AT&T, our privacy commitments are fundamental to the way we do business every day. We are committed to keeping our customers’ personal information safe and to transparency when communicating with them about privacy.  We also give our customers choices and tools so they can manage their security and privacy.  For example, our FamilyMap app requires the user to opt in to the use of their location and we send periodic notices to the devices that can be located by FamilyMap, as well as providing easy-to-use controls.

We are especially supportive of the continued need for consumer education and awareness, which has become a hallmark of our privacy program. For example, our Smart Controls website provides comprehensive access to information about AT&T safety and control tools, expert resources and tips designed to help customers manage their technology choices and keep their families safe online. We also collaborate with many third parties to support online safety and privacy education for all ages.

But in today’s market, effective privacy protections require cooperation and collaboration across the industry.  The use of apps is exploding both in terms of function and popularity.  For that reason we work with app developers to ensure that privacy considerations are taken into account from the start. We require apps on our AT&T Store to have a privacy policy and to adhere to our location information privacy policies.  Our AT&T Foundries also work with app developers to emphasize privacy by design and provide links to privacy resources and information.

The flexible approach to privacy advocated in the Administration’s white paper is a refreshing step beyond archaic regulatory approaches that were designed for the static communications market of the past.  We have been active participants in the development of industry guidelines and best practices designed to enhance consumer privacy, and we look forward to continued collaboration with the government and other stakeholders for the good of consumers.

We also appreciate the Administration’s ongoing efforts to protect the global free flow of information across borders.  By establishing a flexible privacy framework that is designed for today’s Internet, the U.S. is demonstrating leadership and setting a positive model for other countries.  Yesterday’s announcement lays the groundwork for increased interoperability with privacy laws in other countries, which will help promote growth and innovation on the global Internet.

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