FTC Staff Issues Privacy Report

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The FTC staff released a report today that proposes a new framework for consumer privacy: Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Business and Policymakers.

In today’s technologically advanced world, data is collected and shared at lightning speed, often leaving consumers confused, or worse, completely unaware of what’s happening with their personal information.  Why is that?  Partly because privacy polices tend to be too long or too complicated for consumers to understand.

After more than 40 years of enforcing privacy law, we’re proposing three main approaches to enhance consumer privacy:

  • Companies should build privacy protections into their everyday practices
  • Companies should simplify privacy choices for consumers.  In the context of online behavioral advertising, consumers should be able to make choices about third party tracking through a universal “Do Not Track” mechanism, rather than having to make choices on a company-by-company basis.
  • Companies should improve the transparency of their privacy practices by creating clearer, shorter privacy notices and providing consumers with reasonable access to relevant information that companies collect about them. 

We’re committed to working with Congress and other stakeholders to refine and implement our policy recommendations in the coming months.  We’d like your input, too.  The deadline for filing comments is January 31, 2011, and we expect to release a final report next year.

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