FTC Issues Report on Protecting Consumer Privacy

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s chief privacy policy and enforcement agency, issued a final report setting forth best practices for businesses to protect the privacy of American consumers and give them greater control over the collection and use of their personal data.  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.

“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.”

The final privacy report expands on a preliminary staff report the FTC issued in December 2010.  The final report calls on companies handling consumer data to implement recommendations for protecting privacy, including:

  • Privacy by Design - companies should build in consumers’ privacy protections at every stage in developing their products.  These include reasonable security for consumer data, limited collection and retention of such data, and reasonable procedures to promote data accuracy;
  • Simplified Choice for Businesses and Consumers - companies should give consumers the option to decide what information is shared about them, and with whom.  This should include a Do-Not-Track mechanism that would provide a simple, easy way for consumers to control the tracking of their online activities.
  • Greater Transparency - companies should disclose details about their collection and use of consumers’ information, and provide consumers access to the data collected about them.

The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

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