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    Network World: FTC readies national privacy framework

    Network World reports on an upcoming report concerning privacy from the Federal Trade Commissiont:

    In an era of massive collecting and selling of personal data, the Federal Trade Commission is preparing to weigh in on America’s marketing frenzy in an effort to referee what’s fair or unfair to consumers when it comes to personal data privacy.

    The FTC, whose mission is to protect consumers and guard against harmful business practices, expects to issue a “privacy framework” that will include guidance about best practices, says an FTC source. Washington insiders expect the FTC framework to appear in early December. Even sooner than that, industry watchers expect the Department of Commerce to issue a report about data privacy online and make a call for a national data-privacy law. […]

    The FTC privacy framework will help establish a baseline of permitted practices for online collection of personal information, but it’s uncertain how much power the FTC will have to enforce any of its recommendations if there’s not a national law to back it up. The FTC is there to enforce laws that Congress enacts, not write new laws, Brookman points out. Today, the main law the FTC has at hand for data privacy relates to “prohibited and deceptive business practices.” […]

    The FTC privacy framework is also likely to address the complaint that legal privacy disclosures today are generally dense legalese that’s almost incomprehensible to the average person. […]

    There’s hope the FTC will be successful in finding the right balance for disclosure and privacy guidelines. To boost its effort, the FTC is bringing on board Edward Felten, professor of computer science and public affairs and founding director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. He starts in January as the FTC’s first-ever chief technologist.

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