FTC Issues Privacy Policy Report

December 6, 2010

The US Federal Trade Commission [FTC] has issued a staff report that outlines a proposed framework for privacy policy for Internet and other new technology products and services.   The proposal is an apparent response to the common perception that privacy tends to get short shrift when new products are developed.

The report states that industry efforts to address privacy through self-regulation “have been too slow, and up to now have failed to provide adequate and meaningful protection.” The framework outlined in the report is designed to reduce the burdens on consumers and businesses.

The report [PDF] is available for download here.

One of the key elements of the proposed framework is a general “Do Not Track” option for consumers, which when selected would prevent Web sites and other services from tracking the user’s browsing history, whether via cookies, Web bugs, or some other means.

One method of simplified choice the FTC staff recommends is a “Do Not Track” mechanism governing the collection of information about consumer’s Internet activity to deliver targeted advertisements and for other purposes. Consumers and industry both support increased transparency and choice for this largely invisible practice.

The FTC will be accepting public comments on the report until January 31, 2011.  You can file a comment electronically here.

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