Annual Highlights 2011

Protecting Consumer Privacy

As consumers go about their lives, they share information. The companies with whom they share it must honor the promises they make - online and off - including those about privacy. The FTC began a national conversation about privacy decades ago, and has continued to raise the profile of privacy practices through law enforcement, consumer education, and policy initiatives.

FTC settlement orders against Facebook and Google resolved charges that these companies violated their privacy promises to consumers. The FTC also challenged the privacy practices of ScanScout and Chitika, online behavioral advertising networks that allegedly deceptively tracked online activities even after people opted out of such tracking. The FTC took action against Teletrack, charging that it violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by selling protected consumer credit reports to marketers, and against Upromise, a membership reward service that allegedly collected consumers' personal information through a web browser tool.

The FTC's final report on privacy adopts three principles proposed in the draft report — privacy by design, greater transparency, and more consumer choice — to help ensure consumer privacy and business innovation. The report continues to encourage businesses to improve their privacy practices through self-regulation, including a Do Not Track system, and notes some industry progress in this area. The report also identifies areas such as large platforms, mobile, and data brokers for further attention in the coming year, and recommends that Congress consider legislation implementing basic privacy protections.

For additional privacy initiatives, see Trending in Technology and Safeguarding Children.

Enforcement Highlights

Policy Highlights

Outreach Highlights