The Federal Trade Commission will host a two-day, public workshop on December 11-12, to examine emerging wireless Internet and data technologies and the privacy, security, and consumer protection issues they raise. According to a Federal Register notice, to be published shortly, "Mobile wireless Internet and data technologies raise many of the privacy and advertising issues previously considered by the Commission. Accordingly, the goal of the workshop is to educate government officials and other interested parties about emerging wireless technologies, and to provide a forum for discussion of the privacy, security and consumer protection issues raised by these new technologies."
Topics that will be considered at the workshop include:
(1) Mobile Technology and Business Models:
(a) Where is wireless Internet and data technology today and where is it going? What devices are currently available for wireless Web access and data services? What sorts of devices and services are anticipated? How will mobile commerce or "m-commerce" develop?
(b) How do wireless Internet and data services function? What types of relationships will consumers have with wireless equipment makers, carriers, data service providers and others involved in the provision of these services? Will consumers' wireless data services be supported by advertising (as many Internet sites are), or will consumers pay for subscriptions (like cable television) or pay fees-per-service accessed?
(2) Privacy and Security: What privacy and security issues do wireless devices raise? For example, how will location information be used (generally and more particularly with respect to advertising) and what are the privacy and security implications of the availability of location information? Is transmission of personal information secure in the wireless medium? As wireless devices converge so that cell phones, personal digital assistants, and electronic wallets may become a single device, how are the risks of identity theft increased and what security measures are possible?
Within this broad topic, the workshop would address existing regulatory structures and existing or emerging self-regulatory initiatives, as well as technological methods of addressing privacy and security concerns.
(3) Disclosures: How can companies make effective disclosures on small screens (both advertising and privacy disclosures)? Particularly as devices move to a combination of voice and text communication, how do traditional concepts like "clear and conspicuous" and "equal prominence" apply? Are there other aspects of this unique medium that will require modification of traditional consumer protection approaches?
The workshop is scheduled to convene at 1:00 p.m., December 11 in room 432 at FTC headquarters, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. The Commission vote to announce the public workshop was 5-0.
Copies of the Federal Register notice are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. 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, 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 https://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.htm. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide.
Claudia Bourne Farrell
Office of Public Affairs
Ellen Finn or Stacy Feuer
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3296 or 202-326-3072