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    Events of Interest: FTC to Host Public Roundtables on Privacy (Dec. 7)

    The Federal Trade Commission announced it will hold public roundtables to “explore the privacy challenges posed by the vast array of 21st century technology and business practices that collect and use consumer data.” The object of the roundtables “is to determine how best to protect consumer privacy while supporting beneficial uses of the information and technological innovation.” Here are the details of “Exploring Privacy: A Roundtable Series”:

    The Privacy Roundtables are free and open to the public. The first will be held Monday, December 7, 2009, at the FTC Conference Center at 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC. Pre-registration is not required. Members of the public and press who wish to participate but who cannot attend can view a live Webcast at The Commission plans to convene additional roundtables in subsequent months, and will post information regarding these events at a later date.

    Individuals and organizations may submit requests to participate as panelists and may recommend topics for inclusion on the agenda. The requests and recommendations should be submitted electronically to Prospective panelists should submit a statement detailing their expertise on the issues to be addressed and contact information, no later than October 30, 2009. Panelists will be selected based on expertise and the need to include a broad range of views.

    The Commission also invites interested parties to submit written comments or original research. A list of specific questions to inform the first roundtable discussions is available at the Commission’s Web site at The Commission will post additional questions to inform subsequent roundtable discussions at a later date.

    Comments should refer to “Privacy Roundtables – Comment, Project No. P095416.” To file electronically, follow the instructions and fill out the form at Paper comments should include the above reference both in the text and on the envelope, and should be mailed or delivered to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-135 (Annex P), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Comments containing confidential material, however, must be filed in paper form, must be clearly labeled “Confidential,” and must comply with Commission Rule 4.9(c). The FTC requests that any paper comments be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.

    Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Requests should be submitted via e-mail to or by calling Carrie McGlothlin at 202-326-3388. Requests should be made in advance. Please include a detailed description of the accommodation needed, and provide contact information.

    The initial questions for comments are:

    1. What risks, concerns, and benefits arise from the collection, sharing, and use of consumer information?  For example, consider the risks and/or benefits of information practices in the following contexts: retail or other commercial environments involving a direct consumer-business relationship; data broker and other business-to-business environments involving no direct consumer relationship; platform environments involving information sharing with third party application developers; the mobile environment; social networking sites; behavioral advertising; cloud computing services; services that collect sensitive data, such as information about adolescents or children, financial or health information, or location data; and any other contexts you wish to address.
    2. Are there commonly understood or recognized consumer expectations about how information concerning consumers is collected and used? Do consumers have certain general expectations about the collection and use of their information when they browse the Internet, participate in social networking services, obtain products from retailers both online and offline, or use mobile communications devices? Is there empirical data that allows us reliably to measure any such consumer expectations?  How determinative should consumer expectations be in developing policies about privacy?
    3. Do the existing legal requirements and self-regulatory regimes in the United States today adequately protect consumer privacy interests? If not, what are the particular privacy interests that warrant increased protection? How have changes in technology, and in the way consumer data is collected, stored, and shared, affected consumer privacy? What are the costs, benefits, and feasibility of technological innovations, such as browser-based controls, that enable consumers to exercise control over information collection? How might increased privacy protections affect technological innovation?

    Date: December 7, 2009 (start time still unknown)
    Location: FTC Conference Center; 601 New Jersey Avenue, NW; Washington, DC 20001
    For more information:

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