Thursday, March 29, 2012

Q&A: What the FTC recommendations mean for online privacy

The Federal Trade Commission this week released its final report on online consumer privacy that recommended implementing a universal "Do Not Track" standard, a centralized website for data brokers and more.
Christopher Wolf, the director of information management practice at the Hogen Lovells law firm and the co-chairman of the Future of Privacy Forum, thinks that the FTC hit most of the right notes in crafting its policy, as it will rely on a flexible "self-regulation" regime that subjects web companies to FTC enforcements if they agree to sign on to privacy rules created by the FTC and industry leaders. In this question-and-answer session we'll talk with Wolf about how "self-regulation" might work, what a centralized data broker information site might look like and what the FTC needs to do to protect consumer privacy on the mobile web.
A lot of the recommendations being pushed by the FTC involve "self-regulation." How exactly does this work on a practical basis.
I'd call it "co-regulation" rather than "self-regulation." The concept is that groups and businesses will come up with a set of standards that they'll promise to abide by and if they don't then they're subject to enforcement by FTC under regulations against deceptive trade practices. Rather than imposing standard one-size-fits-all rules, it allows for flexibility and it allows for changes to occur.

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