He has proposed action on a series of laws to address “Big Data” concerns, but most have not gone anywhere when many corporations want to collect data to sell products, and are telling their paid politicians to vote them down.
This was the reason that a proposal to update the outdated Electronic Privacy Communications Act to protect email and other data stored in the cloud died.
However that is starting to change after public concerns over privacy and cybersecurity that have been amplified by high-profile hacking of credit card data at companies such as Target and Home Depot.
First up is a law being put through by Indiana Congressman Luke Messer, the chairman of the House of Representatives Republican Policy Committee, and Democrat Jared Polis of Colorado, an Internet entrepreneur who founded a network of charter schools.
He is pushing a student privacy bill which will stop big corporates collecting data on kids. The lawmakers have worked on the issue with privacy advocates and more than 100 companies including Microsoft, Google and News Corp subsidiary Amplify to develop a privacy pledge to prevent misuse of data collected in classrooms.
The law will make sure that data collected from students is used only for educational and legitimate research purposes.
Obama wants to go further and has proposed a new national standard to require companies to tell consumers within 30 days from the discovery of a data breach that their personal information had been compromised.
However, there are a patchwork of differing state regulations, which might put a spanner in the works.
Obama is also worried about how Big Data could be used to discriminate against people based on race or where they live for housing or jobs.
On Thursday, the White House will release a report on how companies use Big Data to offer different prices to different consumers saying that Big Data techniques have “turbocharged” price discrimination. Those sorts of laws will hack off the US corporate sponsors of the US political system, and might also die. But US reports are optimistic that Obama might win that one.