A Preliminary FTC Staff Report on "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers"
Dear FTC, I am writing to express my strong support for the proposed consumer protections in online activity. It is scandalous that so many firms have used consumers' personal information (some highly confidential) without consumers' knowledge. These companies have tried to obscure their culpability by pointing to privacy policies and opt-out mechanisms far too complex, involved, and decentralized for the average consumer to manage. Ad and search firms may argue that these proposed changes will imperil their businesses and, therefore, the pace of progress online. But these are largely self-serving and unpersuasive: companies will always find ways to remain profitable. Candidly, if a company believes that it can only stay in business by exploiting the personal information of consumers without their knowledge and consent, then those companies should not be in business. I appreciate that the FTC has taken on this challenge on behalf of consumers. So often, the FTC and other regulatory bodies are seen by the public as irrelevant or, worse yet, as "captives" of the industries that they are appointed to regulate. This proposal represents such an important step toward bolstering public trust in government, and it will form the basis for a fairer and, therefore, more sustainable internet. Many thanks, Andrew Solomon