With issues around the collection and handling of personal data becoming the focus of increased scrutiny among regulators, policymakers, and consumers, interest has continued to grow among organizations to better understand and address privacy risk. Seeking to support innovation in the market and to accommodate the increasingly global nature of data processing ecosystems, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) released Version 1.0 of the NIST Privacy Framework: A Tool for Improving Privacy through Enterprise Risk Management (“NIST Privacy Framework”) on January 16, 2020. The recent publication aims to outline an adaptable approach to privacy risk for organizations of all sizes by providing a “framework for privacy management, not just a checklist of tasks.”
The NIST Privacy Framework is a voluntary tool intended to assist organizations in managing privacy risks that may arise due to system, product, or service operations that involve personal data, or in connection to new regulatory regimes such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). As noted in the Executive Summary, the NIST Privacy Framework is intended to “enable better privacy engineering practices that support privacy by design concepts and help organizations protect individuals’ privacy.” Notably, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), recognized by many as the U.S. government’s top privacy watchdog, had applauded the preliminary draft of the NIST Privacy Framework in Fall 2019 – indicating that the finalized publication could potentially serve as a credible benchmark for organizations seeking to address privacy risk across the data processing lifecycle.