Open Enrollment | Subscribe to Printing Impressions HERE
Connect
Follow us on
Advertisement
 

FTC Endorses ‘Do Not Track’ Mechanism for Online Privacy

December 1, 2010
WASHINGTON, DC—Dec. 1, 2010—The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s chief privacy policy and enforcement agency for 40 years, issued a preliminary staff report 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.

“Technological and business ingenuity have spawned a whole new online culture and vocabulary—e-mail, IMs, apps and blogs—that consumers have come to expect and enjoy. The FTC wants to help ensure that the growing, changing, thriving information marketplace is built on a framework that promotes privacy, transparency, business innovation and consumer choice. We believe that’s what most Americans want as well,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

The report states that industry efforts to address privacy through self-regulation “have been too slow, and up to now have failed to provide adequate and meaningful protection.” The framework outlined in the report is designed to reduce the burdens on consumers and businesses.

“This proposal is intended to inform policymakers, including Congress, as they develop solutions, policies, and potential laws governing privacy, and guide and motivate industry as it develops more robust and effective best practices and self-regulatory guidelines,” according to the report, which is titled, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers.”

Leibowitz added that the FTC, in addition to making policy recommendations, “will take action against companies that cross the line with consumer data and violate consumers’ privacy— especially when children and teens are involved.”

The FTC staff developed the proposed framework in recognition of increasing advances in technology that allow for rapid data collection and sharing that is often invisible to consumers. Although many companies use privacy policies to explain their information practices, the policies have become long, legalistic disclosures that consumers usually don’t read and don’t understand if they do. Current privacy policies force consumers to bear too much burden in protecting their privacy.

To reduce the burden on consumers and ensure basic privacy protections, the report first recommends that “companies should adopt a ‘privacy by design’ approach by building privacy protections into their everyday business practices.” Such protections include reasonable security for consumer data, limited collection and retention of such data, and reasonable procedures to promote data accuracy. Companies also should implement and enforce procedurally sound privacy practices throughout their organizations, including assigning personnel to oversee privacy issues, training employees, and conducting privacy reviews for new products and services.
 

COMMENTS

Click here to leave a comment...
Comment *
Most Recent Comments: