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How does the Federal Privacy Council affect government security?

Established as part of an executive order by President Obama, the Federal Privacy Council plays a role in government cybersecurity. Expert Mike Chapple discusses what that means.

In February 2016, President Barack Obama issued an executive order for the establishment of a Federal Privacy Council. What exactly does this council do? How does it fit in with the federal government's larger cybersecurity strategy, and could it lead to new government standards and regulations?

The Federal Privacy Council, established as part of an executive order by President Obama, is designed to support the work of agency privacy officials. The council is composed of Senior Agency Officials for Privacy (SAOPs) from 24 agencies, including the U.S. Department of State, Department of the Treasury, and Department of Defense. Its three main functions are to develop recommendations on federal government privacy policies and requirements, share ideas and best practices for protecting privacy, and advise on the hiring and training of professional privacy personnel for the federal government.

As part of the government's larger cybersecurity strategy, the Federal Privacy Council exists in an advisory and collaborative capacity, although ideas for privacy enhancements it generates could lead to new government standards or regulations. The executive order of February 2016 creates the Council with reference to the need for privacy in the collection and handling of information lawfully collected by the United States government. Within the context of the overall Cybersecurity National Action Plan, President Obama also emphasized the need to protect the privacy of the American people and American companies, and to counter threats from foreign governments, criminals and other actors.

In addition to the creation of the Federal Privacy Council, the executive order states that within 120 days, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is to issue a revised policy on the role and designation of the SAOPs. The head of each government agency will then designate or confirm its SAOP to participate in the Council for improved collaboration, coordination and exchange of best practices. The Federal Privacy Council head is the deputy director for management of the OMB.

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This was last published in October 2016

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