National Security Institute Publishes New Law and Policy Paper: Privacy Regulation and Unintended Consequences for Security

August 14, 2019
Contact: Jessica Jones

National Security Institute Publishes New NSI Law and Policy Paper:
“Privacy Regulation and Unintended Consequences for Security”

Arlington, VA – On August 14, 2019, the National Security Institute (NSI) at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School published its latest NSI Law and Policy Paper, “Privacy Regulation and Unintended Consequences for Security,” by NSI Senior Fellow and Associate Director for Cybersecurity Megan Brown and NSI Visiting Fellow James B. Burchfield.

This NSI Law and Policy Paper:

  • Describes the federal urgency to act in response to public concern and the rapid global and domestic expansion of comprehensive privacy regulation.
  • Evaluates the implications privacy regulation can have for data protection and beneficial security activities.
  • Argues that AI, biometrics, and certain data categories are all critical to security innovations and activities and must be protected in privacy regulation.
  • Provides actionable recommendations to ensure privacy regulation appropriately balances individual rights with security.

“Privacy is hot in DC and in statehouses across the country.  2020 will bring another flurry of proposed legislation.  But the impact of new privacy rules on security is a topic that gets lost in debates over where the law should head.  The law of unintended consequences is in full force in the privacy arena.  As federal and state regulators gear up, they have to think about how the rights they may create could stifle beneficial security practices or create additional risks and burdens,” Ms. Brown said.  She added, “NSI is doing timely, practical work on policy issues that affect government and the private sector.  This is one more important, practical contribution to that mission.”

“As consumers become increasingly aware of their data privacy, federal policymakers will need to be diligent as they work to protect the rights of individuals while averting overburdensome regulatory actions that may stymie innovative technology,” Mr. Burchfield said.  He added, “This is particularly true as foreign competitors continue to steal valuable intellectual property from America’s tech industry and employ state-sponsored data collection practices. We should be implementing policies that not only protect the privacy of individuals but also help maintain our technological edge.”

“This timely paper from NSI fellows Megan Brown and James Burchfield highlights key issues policymakers must address to avoid inadvertently undermining important cybersecurity efforts while working to protect consumer privacy,” said Jamil N. Jaffer, NSI Founder & Executive Director.

The paper is available here.
Ms. Brown’s bio can be found here.
Mr. Burchfield’s bio can be found here.

About the National Security Institute
The National Security Institute serves as a platform for research, teaching, scholarship, and policy development that incorporates a realistic assessment of the threats facing the United States and its allies, as well as an appreciation of the legal and practical challenges facing U.S. intelligence, defense, law enforcement, homeland security, and cybersecurity communities.  NSI draws on the experience of its visiting fellows, as well as its highly distinguished advisory board and faculty, to produce timely research and policy materials that deliver insightful analysis and actionable recommendations to senior policymakers in the White House and key departments and agencies, as well as those on Capitol Hill.

About George Mason
George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls more than 33,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states.  Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility.

About the Scalia Law School
The Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University is defined by three words: Learn. Challenge. Lead. Students receive an outstanding legal education (Learn), are taught to critically evaluate prevailing orthodoxy and pursue new ideas (Challenge), and, ultimately, are well prepared to distinguish themselves in their chosen fields (Lead).  It has been one of America’s top-ranked law schools for the last fifteen years.