Aerial Surveys International
A Preliminary FTC Staff Report on "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers"
Background on Comments On December 1, 2010, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a preliminary staff report, Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change , that proposes a framework to balance the privacy interests of consumers with innovation that relies on consumer information to develop beneficial new products and services. The proposed report also suggests implementation of a "Do Not Track" mechanism -likely a persistent setting on consumers' browsers -so consumers can choose whether to allow the collection of data regarding their online searching and browsing activities. However, the FTC report goes beyond internet tracking. Comment: Our firm collects aerial photography for mapping services such as disaster prevention, urban drainage, 911, Light Rail, Beatle kill study, Pipe line survey and much more for the Counties, USDA, USFS, NOAA, FIMA, DOT's, USGS and many other government and private mapping programs. I respectfully urge the FTC not to implement any enforcement or broad regulation that would have a harmful affect on firms like mine in the broad private geospatial community. Specifically, the FTC report imprecisely uses and regulates the term precise geolocation information or precise geolocation data . This would adversely impact consumers, geospatial firms, and government programs. My firm "Aeial Surveys International" in Watkins, CO is particularly concerned that this term was not defined in the FTC staff report and the proposed regulations will have broad and harmful unintended consequences. The use of the term geolocation or other geospatial relevant terminology that appear in the FTC regulations will impose a significant new liability on my firm. It regulates areas of the economy and geospatial activities that have not been identified as a problem or pose any privacy concern to citizens. The regulations could thwart common, legitimate, and emerging uses of geospatial data for emergency response/post disaster remediation, insurance, environmental protection, E-911 & ambulance services, fleet management broadband mapping, home security, navigation, mortgage foreclosure monitoring/early warning system, and others. Moreover, activities, technologies, and applications development could be deemed illegal. For example, it would be impractical, if not impossible, for my firm to obtain prior approval or consent from individual citizens prior to acquiring or applying data such as satellite imagery, aerial photography, or parcel, address, or transportation data. The FTC regulation would effectively ban my firm, or our clients, from important value-added, integration and application activities. Finally, any such FTC regulation could put U.S. companies at a significant and insurmountable competitive disadvantage against foreign firms that may not be covered by that regulation, or for which enforcement would be impractical. FTC should provide the necessary and desirable privacy protections to individual citizens, however, it should not limit the geospatial community s ability to grow, prosper, and bring to the market those technologies and applications that meet the economic demands of consumers and citizens. Thank you. Mark Schubert