A Preliminary FTC Staff Report on "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers" #00304

Submission Number:
Brian Burnett
Bohannan Huston
New Mexico
Initiative Name:
A Preliminary FTC Staff Report on "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers"
I am President of a company that provides geospatial (mapping and surveying) information to many private and public sector customers. 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 which could adversely impact consumers, geospatial firms, and government programs. We are particularly concerned that these terms were not defined in the FTC staff report and the proposed regulations. As such, we believe that this will have broad and harmful unintended consequences, along with adding a significant new liablity on my company. Such terms may end up regulating areas of the economy and geospatial activities that have not been identified as a problem or pose any privacy concern to citizens. If left in the current form, 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 systems, and others. Moreover, activities, technologies, and applications development could be deemed illegal. For example, it would be very 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 valueadded, 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. The FTC should provide the necessary and desirable privacy protections to individual citizens, however, I believe it should do so in a manner that does 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 very much for allowing me to comment on this very important issue.