Implementing Privacy Policy: Who Should Do What?

28 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2018

See all articles by David A. Hyman

David A. Hyman

Georgetown University Law Center

William E. Kovacic

George Washington University - Law School; King's College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law

Date Written: February 13, 2018


Academic scholarship on privacy has focused on the substantive rules and policies governing the protection of personal data. An extensive literature has debated alternative approaches for defining how private and public institutions can collect and use information about individuals. But, the attention given to the what of U.S. privacy regulation has overshadowed consideration of how and by whom privacy policy should be formulated and implemented.

U.S. privacy policy is an amalgam of activity by a myriad of federal, state, and local government agencies. But, the quality of substantive privacy law depends greatly on which agency or agencies are running the show. Unfortunately, such implementation-related matters have been discounted or ignored -- with the clear implication that they only need to be addressed after the "real" work of developing substantive privacy rules is completed.

As things stand, the development and implementation of U.S. privacy policy is compromised by the murky allocation of responsibilities and authority among federal, state, and local governmental entities -- compounded by the inevitable tensions associated with the large number of entities that are active in this regulatory space. These deficiencies have had major adverse consequences, both domestically and internationally. Without substantial upgrades of institutions and infrastructure, privacy law and policy will continue to fall short of what it could (and should) achieve.

Keywords: Privacy, Implementation, Enforcement, FTC, Federal Trade Commission, Privacy Policy

JEL Classification: K12, K13, K20

Suggested Citation

Hyman, David A. and Kovacic, William E., Implementing Privacy Policy: Who Should Do What? (February 13, 2018). GWU Legal Studies Research Paper, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper, Available at SSRN: or

David A. Hyman (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

William E. Kovacic

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202.994.8123 (Phone)


King's College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law

Somerset House East Wing
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics