Submission Number: 00004
Received: 8/17/2011 5:50:11 PM
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Initiative: 16 CFR Part 424 Retail Food Store Advertising and Marketing Practices Rule, Project No. P104203
Attachments: No Attachments
I would like to the FTC Unavailability Rule be expanded. Not only are consumers being taken advantage of at local grocery stores with advertized products being unavialble, the problem for the unprotected consumer goes even deeper. Through a process known as "data mining" consumers have no protection when they have a prescription filled and either the drug manufacture or prescription clubs to which the consumer belongs profiles that consumer and sells that information to third parties without the first party, the consumer ever giving consent or knowing about it. The profiling information is not all that hard to obtain. From the prescription, a diagnosis can easily be attached, being a part of a discount club comes all the other personal information...name, age, gender, just about everything. The same is true about consumer purchasing preferences and to some degree credit history (if a debit/credit card is denied). When a consumer checks out at the grocery store and uses a debit card or writes a check, that transaction must be verified which is good for both the store and the consumer. Unfortunately some verification companies often profile consumer shopping preferences, and other information and sell consumer buying prefernces and how many times their transactions may have been denied to third parties. When a consumer purchases a new cell phone, they may not be fully informed that the cell phone service they are using is tracking them with GPS and is geo tagging their photographs and thier text messages. An innocent unsuspecting consumer can place a family picture on some type of photo gallery social network and that photo would contain not only JPEG info, time and date, but also longitude and latitude information. If the settings are not disabled or cannot be disabled, all a criminal would have to do is view an image on the intenet, click on file and then click propeties. Guess what? If the GPS is not disabled anybody can type in the longitude and latitude cooridinates into just about any internet server and just wait for an image of that persons home to appear on his or her monitor along with the address. This could be potentially dangerous for the elderly who live alone and for young children being stalked by adult preditors wishing to do them harm. The list goes on and on of businesses buying and selling consumer information, profiling consumers without consumer consent. Something must be done to stop all this. The FTC review of the Unavailability Rule and a case that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear, "Sorrell v. IMS Health" are the only hopes of consumer protectionism on the horizon. Other than that, Every infant, child, teen, woman, man, grandmother, and grandfather are at the mercy of powerful businesses who spy on consumers, unlike the Federal Government, even with the Patriot Act, cannot because it is against the law for the United States to spy against it's own citizens.
I respectfully ask, let's be good Americans. Let us do good business. In these hard economic times let us do a lot of business. But let our business be good, honest, open and fair. Please protect consumers beyond the grocery store. Protect them in cyberspace. You have the power to protect them from those who engage in "data mining" tactics and buy and sell consumer information and profiles as if those consumers are the same as slaves to be bought and sold on the slave market and their humanity and dignity have thus been stipped away.