During the final day of the Summit for Democracy held last week, the White House launched a roadmap for both public and private sector entities to navigate the use of privacy enhancing technologies for user data.

The National Strategy to Advance Privacy-Preserving Data Sharing and Analytics (PPDSA), released by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on March 30, aims to support PPDSA technologies and methods to “maximize their benefits in an equitable manner, promote trust, and mitigate risks.”

“The most interesting data in the world is about people. And that makes it the most dangerous data in the world as well,” OSTP Director Arati Prabhakar said during the final day of the summit. “This strategy is a roadmap to use privacy enhancing technologies to navigate this quandary.”

The 46-page strategy lays out four foundational guiding principles that represent its approach to privacy and data: creating PPDSA technologies that protect civil rights; promoting innovation alongside equity; building technologies with accountability mechanisms; and minimizing exposure of vulnerable groups.

“This Strategy takes great care to incorporate socioeconomic and technological contexts that are vital to responsible use of PPDSA technologies, including their impact on equity, fairness, and bias – and how they might introduce privacy harms, especially to disadvantaged groups,” OSTP wrote in the document.

Congress has tried and failed for years to create guardrails on data privacy for U.S. citizens.

Legislation to create stronger Federal rules for the private sector on data privacy and security has been a talking point in Congress for over a decade, but one that has never made it to the finish line.

Absent comprehensive Federal law, OSTP’s latest strategy represents a new chapter toward regulating data privacy protocols for online users.

“Privacy-preserving data sharing and analytics technologies help advance the well-being and prosperity of individuals and society, and promote science and innovation in a manner that affirms democratic values,” OSTP’s strategy states.

The strategy lays out 16 recommendations across five strategic priorities to advance PPDSA technologies, including establishing a steering group to support PPDSA guiding principles and strategic priorities; educating and training participants on the appropriate use and deployment of PPDSA technologies; and expanding privacy curricula in academia, among 13 other recommendations.

“PPDSA technologies, coupled with strong governance, can play a critical role in protecting democratic values and mitigating privacy risks and harms while enabling data sharing and analytics that will contribute to improvements in the quality of life of the American people,” the strategy states.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.