FTC Releases Final Privacy Report
In today’s world of smart phones, smart grids, and smart cars, companies are collecting, storing, and sharing more and more information about you. In fact, as illustrated by the FTC’s new video, you might not realize just how often companies do so:
Although companies use this information to innovate and deliver better products and services, it shouldn’t be at the expense of consumer privacy.
For 40 years, the FTC has been a leader in protecting privacy, and today, the agency released its final report outlining a new privacy framework designed for the 21st Century.
A preliminary report – released in December 2010 – received over 450 public comments from company representatives, privacy advocates, and consumers. The final report retains the basic principles outlined previously but with several important refinements:
- Privacy by Design: Companies should build privacy protections into their everyday business practices. This includes limiting data collection and retention, securing data they maintain and safely disposing of data they no longer need, and implementing reasonable measures to ensure that data is accurate. The final report notes that companies may avoid these measures by making sure data cannot be linked to a particular person or computer.
- Simplified Choice: Companies should provide you with a choice at a time and in a context in which it matters to you. The preliminary report noted that choice was not necessary for certain “commonly accepted practices.” The final report refines that approach and concludes that choice need not be provided for data practices that you would expect given the context of the transaction, the company’s relationship with you, or as required or specifically authorized by law. The final report also reaffirms the Commission’s strong support for Do Not Track (we’ll have more on that in a separate blog post tomorrow).
- Improved transparency: Companies should increase the transparency of their data practices by, for example, developing clearer, more standardized privacy disclosures and providing you with reasonable access to your data. The final report proposes important protections for you with respect to information brokers. The report supports legislation that would provide greater transparency over information broker practices and supports the idea of a centralized website where data brokers could identify themselves and describe how they collect and use your data.
The final privacy report calls on Congress to consider enacting baseline privacy legislation, while urging industry to speed up the pace of self-regulation.