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The Federal Trade Commission will host two public one-day workshops to explore the role of technology in helping consumers and businesses protect the privacy of personal information, including the steps taken to keep their information secure. The first workshop, "The Consumer Experience," to be held Wednesday, May 14, will focus on the technological tools available to consumers to manage and secure their information and whether and how they are using them. The second workshop, "The Business Experience," will be held June 4, and will focus on how businesses use technology to manage their information practices and provide security. The events are open to the public and attendance is free. They will be held in the FTC conference center at 601 New Jersey Ave., NW.

A Federal Register Notice, to be published shortly, states that although a number of technological products and services are available to help consumers and businesses protect personal information, it is unclear just how much consumers and businesses are using them and whether they are meeting consumer and business needs in this area. Therefore, "as more and more consumers share personal information online and use 'always on' Internet connections, it is useful to examine the current role that technology plays in protecting consumers' personal information." The workshops also will examine the changes that have been made in the security area since the FTC's May 2002 workshop on consumer information security.

Questions to be addressed at Workshop One may include:

  • What types of technologies are available or under development to help consumers manage the collection and use of their personal information?
  • What technologies are available or under development that automatically match consumer preferences to businesses' information practices? What is their current status of development and/or implementation?
  • What are businesses, government agencies, and others doing to raise consumer awareness of security issues and help create a "culture of security?"

Questions to be addressed at Workshop Two may include:

  • What types of technologies are available or under development to help businesses manage their information practices and verify their Web site's privacy policy compliance?
  • Are there limits to technology's ability to protect consumer information? What role do people, policies, and organizational structure play in implementing effective safeguards programs?

The FTC requests that interested parties submit written comments on the questions to foster greater understanding of the issues. Especially useful are any studies, surveys, research, and empirical data. Comments should be captioned "Technology Workshop - Comment, P034808." Comments must be received by April 23, 2003.

Parties seeking to participate as panelists should write to the FTC, explaining their expertise in or knowledge of the issues on which the workshop will focus. Requests can be sent to or Technology Workshop - Request to Participate, Office of the Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20580. Requests must be received by March 26.

Additional information about the workshops will be posted at as it becomes available.

Contact Information

Media Contact:
Claudia Bourne Farrell,
Office of Public Affairs
Staff Contact:
Toby Levin or James Silver,
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3713 or 202-326-3708

(FTC File No. P03 4808)