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Ensuring an Open Internet in a Post-Snowden World

STATESCentral Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan arrives to deliver remarks at a Council on Foreign Relations forum on the "challenges and opportunities for the American intelligence Community and reflect on his first year as CIA director" in Washington March 11, 2014.

The revelation of NSA surveillance practices sparked a national debate about privacy and security. In a world where much of our communication relies on data gathering mobile technologies, should all of our digital information still be available for private sector collection and government monitoring? How can we reform digital security and privacy policy to preserve liberty as an American value?

Privacy is part of our liberty

In the TEDx Talk “Great Firewalls Are Not the Answer”, Cameron Kerry the Ann R. and Andrew H. Tisch Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution discusses the future of privacy and data security after the NSA scandal. Kerry explains, “trust is essential to the online environment because consumers who go online need to know that their information is safe and secure, and businesses depend on that trust.” Privacy and security are necessary factors in maintaining consumer confidence. Kerry notes, “privacy is part of our liberty, our freedom to define ourselves in our physical and virtual space.” Americans have valued this right since the creation of our country and it remains deeply embedded in both American culture and policy.

Restoring Trust and Protecting an Open Internet

However, the disclosure of NSA monitoring activities eroded global trust in American commitment to protecting privacy and in American companies.  As part of the Obama Administration, Kerry worked on developing the February 2012 White House Blueprint on Consumer Privacy. The Blueprint articulates seven principles for protecting consumer rights in a global digital age: individual control, transparency, respect for the context in which information is provided, security, focused collection, access and accuracy, and accountability. The Blueprint not only strengthens the trust between consumers and businesses on the web, but also symbolizes the American commitment to data privacy in the future. As Kerry concludes, “it’s up to us to protect and open internet by restoring trust. It’s up to us as citizens; it’s up to us as free individuals.”

Great Firewalls Are Not the Answer: Cameron Kerry at TEDxBeaconStreet

Sonia Vora contributed to the writing of this post.

  • Cameron Kerry joined Brookings as a distinguished visiting fellow in December 2013. In addition to his Brookings affiliation, Cameron Kerry is senior counsel at Sidley Austin, LLP in Boston and Washington, DC, and a visiting scholar the MIT Media Lab. His practice at Sidley Austin involves privacy, security, and international trade issues. At Brookings, Kerry will participate in public forums and research projects with the Governance Studies program and its affiliated Center for Technology Innovation.

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