This month, the Federal Trade Commission issued a proposed privacy framework for businesses and policymakers to oversee behavioral advertising practices. The key provisions of the framework include:
1. Urging businesses to build privacy and data security into the design of sales and advertising practices and into the design of their products and services.
2. A call for businesses to simplify their privacy practices. Although businesses do not need special permission to use some information, such as an address submitted for the purpose of telling the business where to ship goods ordered online, other times they should seek permission. For less obvious uses of data, businesses should offer consumers a choice and options where the topic of the use of the data arises.
3. Privacy policies and notices should be simpler and clearer, and provide clear disclosure and obtain consent where the business proposes to change privacy practices regarding information collected under a different set of expectations. Businesses should do more to educate users about privacy.
The FTC report attracted significant media attention, although it is merely a preliminary staff report seeking feedback on a proposed framework. The FTC is seeking comments and will issue a final report next year. The FTC seeks to inform businesses of appropriate privacy practices for self-regulatory purposes. The implication, however, is that the FTC report may form the basis of legislation to require better privacy practices if some businesses do not change their practices and if industry self-regulation fails.
For a copy of the FTC report, click here.
Partner, Cooke Kobrick & Wu LLP