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    AdAge Q&A with David Vladeck, FTC’s Consumer Bureau Chief

    AdAge has an interview with David Vladeck, head of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, and the topics include consumer privacy and data protection:

    Ad Age: Regarding social networks, who owns your profile?

    Mr. Vladeck: There isn’t a clear-cut legal answer. Ownership question is one that has bedeviled legal scholars. The real question is, “Who has control over that information?” Our view has always been that consumers ought to have control over that kind of personal information and share it with whom they want.

    Ad Age: Who, then, owns the connection between users on a social network?

    Mr. Vladeck: It’s a big debate under the rubric of the “right to be forgotten.” Some in the European community argue that if I want to delete information about me on a social-networking site, I should be able to delete information that I post, as well as information someone else posts about me — such as if someone takes a picture of me … that I would prefer to see deleted. But our legal regime in the U.S. is more complicated, because of our system of laws that says Ed has a right to post a picture of David, even if David is unhappy with that picture. The absence of any sort of First Amendment or broader concept has made that debate easier in Europe than it would be here in U.S.

    Ad Age: How is the ad industry’s self-regulatory privacy program fared so far? What’s your assessment?

    Mr. Vladeck: Last time I looked, we got another five or six weeks till their deadline. People are watching. […]

    Ad Age: When the five or six weeks are up, how will you evaluate the industry’s privacy program?

    Mr. Vladeck: It’s nothing you haven’t already heard. We have laid out five criteria: easy-to-use and understand; effective and enforceable; it’s got to be universal — you can’t have to go company by company or ad network by ad network. There’s got to be some way to eliminate the burden on consumers. And also collection and use is an issue as well as persistence — every time you clear your browser, you shouldn’t have to do that again.

    But the thing we’ve had the most extended dialogue with the industry about is the difference between collection and use. For us, for Do Not Track to be effective, it’s got to address the collection of data and not just the use. We’ve been harping on this issue since 2009. Other than the delivery of targeted ads, what are you collecting data on? Consumers have to have broader right to opt out of being tracked. I know there’s been a bit of a semantic argument between us and the ad industry about collection and use.

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