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HL Chronicle of Data Protection Privacy & Information Security News & Trends
Posted in Consumer Privacy, News & Events

Maryland Attorney General Puts Privacy in the Spotlight, Establishes Internet Privacy Unit


Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, current President of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), has made “Privacy in the Digital Age” his presidential initiative for 2013. As part of the presidential initiative, NAAG will host a number of privacy-focused events throughout the year, including a three-day conference this April. On Monday, January 28th, which was Data Privacy Day 2013, Gansler gave a keynote address at a Microsoft “Conversations on Privacy” event. In his remarks, he identified several points of focus for the initiative: (1) creating transparency in data collection and dissemination practices, (2) empowering consumers with opt-out controls, (3) ensuring that consumer are protected against data breaches, (4) confronting financial privacy and mobile payment issues, (5) bringing attention to location privacy, (6) improving cybersecurity awareness, and (7) increasing protection against cyberbullying.

During his keynote address at Microsoft, Gansler stated that privacy is becoming the top consumer protection issue both for his office and nationwide. He noted his belief that these issues should primarily be regulated on the state level, and mentioned a forthcoming state-wide initiative to establish one member of each county’s public school administration as a point of contact to report cyberbullying, with support from major Internet companies.  Gansler has tackled cyber safety issues in the past, including through Community Leadership In Cyber Knowledge and Safety (CLICKS), an initiative aimed at providing training and resources to help educate students and their parents about Internet safety.

Also on Monday, Gansler announced the formation of a new Internet Privacy Unit within the Maryland AG’s office. The press release notes that the unit will “monitor companies to ensure they are in compliance with state and federal consumer protection laws, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,” as well as “examine weaknesses in online privacy policies and work alongside major industry stakeholders and privacy advocates to provide outreach and education to business and consumers.” This comes on the heels of a similar announcement from Kamala Harris, California’s Attorney General, who created a similar unit within her office in 2012.

Paul Otto, an associate in our Washington office, contributed to this entry.