The FTC and its foreign partners are calling for stepped-up cooperation among privacy regulators and law enforcement authorities to promote greater protection for personal information. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a 30-nation forum that promotes economic growth, trade, and development, issued recommendations today.
Personal information crossing national borders has grown dramatically in recent years, generating lower costs, more efficiency, and better customer service, but also creating privacy concerns. Individuals seeking legal recourse for privacy violations in other countries face challenges, while hurdles confront law enforcement pursuing matters outside their jurisdiction.
The OECD’s recommendations for government enforcement agencies include the following:
- They should improve domestic frameworks for privacy law enforcement to enhance their ability to cooperate with foreign authorities.
- They should develop means to facilitate cross-border privacy law enforcement cooperation.
- They should provide assistance to one another to enforce privacy laws, including notification, complaint referral, and investigative assistance and information sharing, subject to appropriate safeguards.
- They should engage the private sector and non-governmental organizations in discussion and activities to improve privacy law enforcement cooperation.
The FTC has implemented many of the OECD recommendations. For example, the agency aggressively pursues law enforcement actions against companies that fail to adequately protect sensitive consumer information, and provides consumers and businesses with privacy and data security information. The recently enacted U.S. SAFE WEB Act has given the FTC more tools to cooperate with other countries in privacy investigations.
Cooperative initiatives to implement the OECD's recommendation are already underway. The OECD has developed two model forms to facilitate privacy law enforcement cooperation. The first is a form to assist in the creation of a list of contact points in each country to coordinate requests for assistance. The second is a form for use by an authority in requesting assistance to help ensure that key items of information are included in the request. Both of these forms are available on the OECD's website.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.shtm. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.