FTC Staff To Survey Consumer Privacy on the Internet

Agency to Review 1,200 Web Sitesfor Privacy Policy Disclosures

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For Release

Beginning in March, the Federal Trade Commission staff will survey 1,200 commercial Web sites to determine the extent to which these sites, including sites directed to children, are disclosing how they collect and use personal information online. The staff also will analyze how many sites offer consumers choice regarding how their personal information is used. The Commission is currently preparing a report to Congress on the effectiveness of self-regulatory approaches to protecting consumers' privacy online. The survey results will be included in this report.

Over the past three years, the Federal Trade Commission has been examining the personal privacy and consumer protection issues raised by the collection and use of information about consumers as they use the Internet. A number of public workshops have been held by the agency's Bureau of Consumer Protection. Throughout the workshops, the online industry has advocated self-regulation as the most efficient and effective means of creating online privacy protections. In addition, trade association representatives have made commitments to develop privacy policies as guidance for their members, and to encourage their members to disclose their own information practices on their Web sites. As part of the report to Congress, the Commission also will assess existing industry guidelines and principles. The Commission requests that interested trade associations and industry groups submit their guidelines and principles for consideration.

The notice requesting industry guidelines and principles on online collection and use of consumers' personal information will be published in the Federal Register shortly. Submission is requested by March 31. All of the guidelines and principles submitted in response will be available for public inspection at the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, Sixth Street & Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20580 and to the extent technically possible on the FTC's web site at: http://www.ftc.gov (no period).

The Commission's vote to approve the Federal Register notice was 4-0, with Commissioner Mary L. Azcuenaga not participating.

Copies of the notice, the transcripts of the workshops, a FTC staff report titled, "Consumer Privacy on the Global Information Infrastructure," as well as public commentary submitted for the workshops are available on the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center; 202-326-3128; 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.

(FTC File No. 954 807)

Contact Information

Media Contact:
Victoria Streitfeld
Office of Public Affairs
Staff Contact:
David Medine
Bureau of Consumer Protection