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FTC Releases Details About December 7, January 28 Privacy Roundtables

On November 17, the Federal Trade Commission released the agenda of the first of three privacy round tables it will hold over the course of the next few months.  The first round table will occur on December 7 at the FTC Conference Center in Washington, DC, and will feature four panels entitled "Benefits and Risks of Collecting, Using, and Retaining Consumer Data," "Consumer Expectations and Disclosures," "Online Behavioral Advertising," and "Exploring Existing Regulatory Frameworks."

The FTC also announced that its second privacy round table will be held on January 28, 2010 at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.  The round table will focus on how technology affects consumer privacy, including its role in both raising privacy concerns and enhancing privacy protections, and will include specific discussions on cloud computing, mobile computing, and social networking.  The FTC has posed two questions for comment in advance of this round table:

  1. What role do privacy enhancing technologies play in addressing Internet-related privacy concerns?  Consider the efficacy of technological innovations in areas such as identity management systems, new means of providing consumer notice and choice, and emerging methods of ensuring accountability in data usage.  In framing comments, consider the costs and benefits of privacy-enhancing technologies in the following contexts:  cloud computing services; social networking sites; online behavioral advertising; the mobile environment; services that collect sensitive data, such as location-based information; and any other contexts you wish to address.  If privacy enhancing technologies do play a role in resolving privacy concerns, discuss whether and how to create incentives for the development and adoption of such technologies, and ways to ensure they are effective and useful to consumers.
  2. What challenges do innovations in the digital environment pose for consumer privacy, and how can those challenges be addressed without stifling innovation or otherwise undermining benefits to consumers?  For example, consider the technology and business practices that enable greater collection, use, and distribution of consumer data, including evolving methods of observation and tracking; techniques for correlating data, including the re-identification of anonymized data; the merging of data between on-line and off-line environments; and the emergence of third-party application developers in online platform environments.

The FTC currently is soliciting requests to participate as panelists in this second round table, as well as recommendations for topics for inclusion in the agenda, which are due by December 9.  Comments or additional research on the topics will be considered prior to the second round table if they are received by December 21.

Details have not yet been released for the third and final privacy round table, which is to be held on March 17, 2010 in Washington.