TrustArc Blog

Thoughts on FTC Privacy Report

December 02, 2010

By Fran Maier President TRUSTe TRUSTe welcomes yesterday’s FTC Privacy Report, on “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change.” Generally, we think that the Report is a positive inquiry that balances the need to protect consumer privacy while continuing to foster innovation in today’s online technology-driven markets. The Report reflects a thoughtful understanding of the changing nature of the online ecosystem – with the advent of mobile and other platforms – and highlights the complex questions posed by the collection and use of consumer data in the digital age. The Report is a preliminary examination into consumer privacy, … Continue reading Thoughts on FTC Privacy Report

Privacy’s Zeitgeist Moment in the US?

November 12, 2010

By Fran Maier President TRUSTe   Destination360 White House In the last year industry has been on notice that privacy legislation is coming. The recent elections have not significantly diminished the “threat” of legislation since privacy has become a bipartisan issue thanks to vocal media, advocates and consumers who have made the case for greater regulatory action. It’s no surprise then that today the Wall Street Journal announced that the Obama Administration will seek to establish a new federal position to oversee privacy matters. Of course, Congress would have to pass a law to grant this position any real authority … Continue reading Privacy’s Zeitgeist Moment in the US?

Privacy Is Heating Up On The Hill

July 30, 2010

Elizabeth Frazee
Government consultant


Photo Credit

It’s been a big week for privacy issues in Washington. Hearings in both the Senate and the House with heavy hitter witnesses and public comments from policymakers about their plans for legislation have kept those of us in the privacy policy community plenty busy.

Tuesday’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing on general privacy issues (archived webcast available here) was striking for the witnesses who testified – FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, and representatives from Apple, Google, Facebook, AT&T, and others. While industry witnesses didn’t labor on the potential perils of privacy regulation in their oral comments, their written testimony urged policymakers to consider the ramifications of stifling innovation before legislating. During the first panel of Leibowitz and Genachowski, the majority of questions went to the FTC Chairman who said to expect before the end of the year the release of the Commission’s recommendations on how to improve privacy protections following their privacy roundtable series. In prepared remarks Leibowitz admonished industry to speed up self-regulation or potentially face privacy legislation next year and noted that the FTC is again considering the implementation of an online “do not track” registry similar to the nation’s “do not call” registry.

During the second panel of industry leaders, privacy advocates and academics the company witnesses got some tough questions about their privacy practices. The question and answer session with this panel highlighted that there is a steep learning curve on technology issues for many Senators. Those who attended the hearing on Tuesday, Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), David Pryor (D-AR), John Kerry (D-MA), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), George LeMieux (R-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), John Thune (R-SD), Any Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Begich (D-AK) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), were enthusiastic about tackling the issues at hand. Their remarks across the board, however, point to the committee’s predilection to believe that consumers are threatened by current online collection and use of data. Chairman Rockefeller asked whether consumers can demand the same degree of anonymity on the Internet that they have in a shopping mall. Several noted that records about purchases are maintained by online retailers such as Amazon and eBay. Senator McCaskill called online targeted advertising “creepy” although she did note that we need to be careful “not to kill the golden goose.” Read more “Privacy Is Heating Up On The Hill”

A new federal privacy law on the horizon?

July 23, 2010

Elizabeth Frazee Government consultant TRUSTe Photo Credit Yesterday I attended a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection that focused on two pending privacy bills in the House of Representatives. Seven witnesses testified about HR 5777, the Best Practices Act, introduced by the subcommittee’s Chairman, Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) and draft privacy legislation authored by the Chairman of the Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee, Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA) and cosponsored by that subcommittee’s ranking Republican Cliff Stearns (R-FL). The panel of seven witnesses consisted of David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s … Continue reading A new federal privacy law on the horizon?

Protecting Youths In an Online World

July 16, 2010

Elizabeth Frazee Government consultant TRUSTe Photo Credit Yesterday I attended a hearing held by the Senate Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance Subcommittee entitled “Protecting Youths in an Online World.” You can watch a video of the hearing here. The hearing was overseen by the subcommittee’s chairman, Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) and full committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) also attended. Jessica Rich, the Deputy Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission testified, as well as representatives from News Corporation, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry … Continue reading Protecting Youths In an Online World

Do current privacy laws serve consumer interests and democratic values?

June 30, 2010

Fran Maier President TRUSTe This was the question asked this past Spring by the Department of Commerce, who sought public input on “the impact of current privacy laws in the United States and around the world on the pace of innovation in the information economy”. TRUSTe submitted comments (which you can view here) as did a number of other companies, groups and individuals (A full index of comments is available here). I’ve summarized below four key points from the comments we submitted: 1. The cost of business compliance with the current patchwork of privacy regulations is so high that it … Continue reading Do current privacy laws serve consumer interests and democratic values?