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Posted in Consumer Privacy

FTC Previews Forthcoming Privacy Report

Maneesha Mithal from the FTC Division of Privacy and Identity Protection spoke today at the Online Trust Alliance Forum in Washington, DC and provided some insights into the forthcoming FTC Report on Privacy, following the three recent Roundtables conducted by the Commission.  She cautioned that the Commissioners had not yet reviewed and approved the Report, and that it may change, but said the following:

There are five fundamental findings about privacy today that will be included in the Report:

  1. There is increased collection, storage and use of data.
  2. Consumers are largely unaware of the use of data, especially the practices of the data broker industry and behavioral advertising.  Notice and choice has been a disaster.
  3. Consumers really do care about privacy. 
  4. Innovation in the Internet economy is important, and free content that is provided through the collection of information also is important.
  5. There is a blurring of the distinction between personally identifiable information and non-personally identifiable information.
The Report will build on these findings and propose a new privacy framework, and the Report will say "This is what privacy should look like".
There will be three major aspects of the Report:
  1. Privacy by Design, that includes privacy reviews, must be a part of all technology development that involves personal information
  2. There is a need to improve consumer choice, with just in time notices of collection practices
  3. There is a need for Improved transparency, even with just in time disclosures.  Privacy notices will remain, but must improve (see e.g.  the new GLB privacy notices sanctioned by the FTC)

Ms. Mithal summarized by saying "Our whole Report is about consumer control."

In some circles, it was expected that the FTC Report might be released before the 32d Annual Conference of Privacy and Data Protection Commissioners in Jerusalem at the end of October, but that now does not seem likely given the review process at the Commission. 

So we now have a glimpse of what to expect, but stay tuned.