FTC Report on Protecting Consumer Privacy released

The FTC has issued its final report setting forth best practices for businesses to protect consumer’s personal data. The report emphasizes “privacy by design” which, among other things, requires more opt-in approaches to information sharing, setting defaults as private, and recognizing that there is a range between confidential and public, such as limited to family, to friends and family, to colleagues, or others. While called the final report, it undoubtedly will not be. Legislation is likely in this area as technology and public demands continue to shift. The FTC recognizes as much.

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In the report, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers,” the FTC also recommends that Congress consider enacting general privacy legislation, data security and breach notification legislation, and data broker legislation.

Some proposals, such as do not track will have much stronger support among all interests in the privacy debate and should see broad legislative support.

“If companies adopt our final recommendations for best practices – and many of them already have – they will be able to innovate and deliver creative new services that consumers can enjoy without sacrificing their privacy,” said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. “We are confident that consumers will have an easy to use and effective Do Not Track option by the end of the year because companies are moving forward expeditiously to make it happen and because lawmakers will want to enact legislation if they don’t.”

Concerns for tracking of mobile devices are adding to public interest in privacy legislation. Moreover, concern about the power of police and security forces may further the discussion for appropriate U.S. legislation.

At the same time, policy changes in Europe mean that it is likely the U.S. and Europe will move farther apart even as the U.S. tries to improve its protections of individual privacy.

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