The Federal Trade Commission has issued its Final Privacy Framework Report that outlines guidelines for how companies can and cannot use consumer data on the Internet. The initial report was released in Dec. 2010 and the FTC took in consideration 453 public comments in the final report. The FTC provides guidelines for Do-Not-Track provisions, how information can be tracked on mobile devices and how large platform providers like Facebook and Google can use consumer data.
Since the initial report, the FTC brought enforcement actions against both Facebook and Google to, “require the companies to obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before materially changing certain of their data practice and to adopt strong, company-wide privacy programs that outside auditors will assess for 20 years.” While Google and Facebook drew the ire of the FTC, any company that tracks personal consumer data on the Web is now put on notice.
[t]he five main action items in the report:
Do-Not-Track: Includes browser vendors that have developed tools to allow consumers to limit data collected on them. Commends the Digital Advertising Alliance, a self-regulatory group of the advertising industry, on developing an icon-based system to honor the browser tools as well as the W3C on created standards to protect consumer data.
Mobile: Urges companies to work toward improved privacy protections and to development meaningful disclosures. The FTC has also created a project to update its business guidance about online advertising disclosures. The FTC is holding a workshop in D.C. on May 30, 2012 to discuss mobile privacy, advertising and consumer data.
Data Brokers: Consumers often do not know how they are being tracked on the Web and do not have the ability to figure it out. The FTC recommends that data brokers create a centralized website to identify themselves to consumers and detail the access rights and other options they provide for the consumer data they maintain.
Large Platform Providers: This includes Internet Service Providers, operating systems like Windows or Mac OS X, Android or iOS, browsers, and social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. The ability of these platforms to track consumers’ online activities raises privacy concerns. The FTC plans a workshop on large platforms in the second half of 2012.
Promoting Enforceable Self-Regulatory Codes: The Department of Commerce is undertaking a project to facilitate development of sector-specific codes of conduct. Companies that adhere to the privacy framework will be viewed favorably in connection with the FTC’s law enforcement work. “The Commission will also continue to enforce the FTC Act to take action against companies that engage in unfair or deceptive practices, including the failure to abide by self-regulatory programs they join.”
The three pillars of the framework are; “Privacy by Design;” Simplified Choice for Businesses and Consumers;” and “Greater Transparency.”
I think the following should be in bold and trumpeted loudly.
“Your computer is your property,” said FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz, “No one, no one, has the right to put something on it that you don’t want.“