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    Federal Trade Commission Report Calls on Companies to Adopt Best Privacy Practices

    The Federal Trade Commission has released a new report, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers” (FTC pdf; archive pdf) and the agency is urging businesses to follow best privacy practices to better protect consumers and their personal data. The FTC makes other recommendations in the report, including that Congress enact legislation on general privacy issues, data security and breach notification, and regulation of data brokers.

    “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 FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, in a news release.  “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.”

    Here’s an excerpt from the Executive Summary:

    This Report follows a preliminary staff report that the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) issued in December 2010. The preliminary report proposed a framework for protecting consumer privacy in the 21st Century. Like this Report, the framework urged companies to adopt the following practices, consistent with the Fair Information Practice Principles first articulated almost 40 years ago:

    • Privacy by Design: Build in privacy at every stage of product development;
    • Simplified Choice for Businesses and Consumers: Give consumers the ability to make decisions about their data at a relevant time and context, including through a Do Not Track mechanism, while reducing the burden on businesses of providing unnecessary choices; and
    • Greater Transparency: Make information collection and use practices transparent.

    The Commission received more than 450 public comments in response to the preliminary report from various stakeholders, including businesses, privacy advocates, technologists and individual consumers. A wide range of stakeholders, including industry, supported the principles underlying the framework, and many companies said they were already following them. At the same time, many commenters criticized the slow pace of self-regulation, and argued that it is time for Congress to enact baseline privacy legislation. In this Report, the Commission addresses the comments and sets forth a revised, final privacy framework that adheres to, but also clarifies and fine-tunes, the basic principles laid out in the preliminary report. [...]

    The Administration and certain Members of Congress have called for enactment of baseline privacy legislation. The Commission now also calls on Congress to consider enacting baseline privacy legislation and reiterates its call for data security legislation. The Commission is prepared to work with Congress and other stakeholders to craft such legislation. At the same time, the Commission urges industry to accelerate the pace of self-regulation.

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