Ransomware, Drones, and Smart TV. That’s a trio you don’t often see together. The FTC will consider the consumer protection implications of those issues at three half-day conferences later this year. We call it the Fall Technology Series, and you’ll want to mark your calendar now.
Ransomware – 1:00 ET, September 7, 2016. It’s a crime that extortionists commit with alarming frequency: “We’ve encrypted your documents. Pay up or you’ll never see your files again.” Sometimes they pose as FBI agents and claim a person owes a “fine” for viewing illegal material online. In a new variation, they target files on mobile devices. Short of going all Liam Neeson in Taken, what can people do when their data is held for ransom? The workshop will consider appropriate responses for consumers, businesses, and law enforcers.
Drones – 1:00 ET, October 13, 2016. According to reports, one million new “unmanned aerial systems” – drones – will be bought this year. The technology has great promise, but what are the consumer protection ramifications of this new form of information gathering? The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is currently convening meetings to talk about best practices for privacy, accountability, and transparency, discussions that will undoubtedly provide important input for the FTC’s event.
Smart TV – 1:00 ET, December 7, 2016. Just how does the little man who lives inside our TV know that since we like “The Americans,” we might love “The Game”? Do collaborations among TV and streaming device manufacturers, software developers, and advertisers allow them to target consumers and understand what ads might work? Are there best practices for addressing consumer privacy considerations on entertainment systems? Those are just some of the topics the Smart TV event will explore.
The workshops are scheduled for the FTC’s Constitution Center conference facility, 400 7th Street, S.W., in Washington DC. (It’s at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro stop.) Check the announcement for details about the discussion topics for each event. We welcome your comments and will keep the public record open for an additional 30 days after each event.
(Edited on April 20, 2016, to reflect the new 1:00 Eastern Time start for the three Fall Technology Series events.)