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The Federal Trade Commission testified today before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection on the agency's efforts in the area of protecting consumers' privacy. Chairman Robert Pitofsky testified on behalf of the FTC, outlining the Commission's wide-ranging activities addressing online privacy issues, emphasizing its work over the past year. In prepared testimony, the Commission reiterated its commitment to the goal of ensuring privacy for consumers and to continue working to address the variety of privacy issues raised by the explosive growth in online commerce.

Pitofsky outlined the timeline of the Commission's interest and involvement in online privacy, beginning in 1995 when the Commission held its first public workshops on online privacy and related matters designed to educate itself and the public on the many facets of this issue. The FTC has also been active on a number of other fronts: examining Web site practices in the collection, use, and transfer of consumers' personal information; encouraging and evaluating self-regulatory efforts and technological developments to enhance consumer privacy; developing consumer and business education materials; and studying the role of government in protecting online information privacy, including the online collection and use of information from and about children. According to the testimony, the FTC has also issued a series of reports to Congress regarding privacy online, including the topics of online profiling and the global aspects of Internet privacy.

In 2000, the FTC conducted several privacy-related initiatives of note. These efforts included:

  • surveying Web sites to examine their information practices and privacy statements;
  • convening the Advisory Committee on Online Access and Security to study and provide recommendations pertaining to (a) consumers' access to their personal information; and (b) appropriate measures to protect the security of that information;
  • issuing a report to Congress on online privacy;
  • issuing a series of reports to Congress on third-party online profiling;
  • issuing Rules implementing the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the Gramm-Leach-Bailey Act (GLBA);
  • providing comments to other government agencies examining privacy issues; and
  • bringing law enforcement actions against Web sites that violated the FTC Act.

The Commission vote to authorize the release of the testimony and submit a copy for inclusion in the formal record was 5-0. The views expressed in the written testimony represent those of the Federal Trade Commission. The oral presentation by Chairman Pitofsky and responses to questions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commission or any other individual Commissioner.

The testimony of the Commission is available at the FTC's web site at and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.

Media Contact:

Eric London
Office of Public Affairs

(FTC File No. P004806)