19 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 297 2019 from enacting more stringent rules. Should federal legislation fail to provide meaningful data protection, states may wish to provide further privacy protections for their citizens. However, by allowing states to create stronger privacy rules, companies and organizations will continue to run into a patchwork system. Will federal legislation provide incentives for privacy research and development? Some advocates for a federal framework have urged for inclusion of incentives for cybersecurity research and development of new models to address privacy concerns. Some have noted that incentives for companies to proactively protect data and prevent security breaches will better serve consumers than systems that simply rely on notice or after-the-fact disclosures. As will be discussed further below, there are no easy answers nor consensus around these issues. However, stakeholders and policy makers are determined to move discussions around privacy forward, with many holding an ultimate goal of creating new legislation in the United States in 2019. Current Privacy Landscape in the United States Federal Approach to Privacy The legal privacy landscape in the United States currently can be described as a patchwork system, at best, that relies on sector-specific federal laws and widely divergent state legislation. The United States does not currently have a comprehensive consumer privacy law, meaning that different types of data are treated differently and there is no baseline standard for consumers to expect protection of personally identifiable information. Privacy laws currently existing at the federal level are sector-specific, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) covering protected health information, or the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) covering certain student records, or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act covering consumers’ financial information. This sectoral approach, however,
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