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    World Privacy Forum: Many Failures: A Brief History of Privacy Self-Regulation in the United States

    The World Privacy Forum’s Pam Dixon and privacy consultant Robert Gellman have released a new report: “Many Failures:A Brief History of Privacy Self-Regulation in the United States” (pdf). From the summary:

    Major efforts to create self-regulatory, or voluntary, guidelines in the area of privacy began in 1997. Industry promoted privacy self-regulation at the time as a solution to consumer privacy challenges. This report reviews the leading efforts of the first self-regulatory wave from 1997 to 2007, and includes a review of the life span, policies, and activities of the Individual Reference Services Group, Privacy Leadership Initiative, Online Privacy Alliance, Network Advertising Initiative, BBBOnline Privacy Program, US-EU Safe Harbor Framework, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, and the Platform for Privacy Preferences. A key finding of this report is that the majority of the industry self-regulatory programs that were initiated failed in one or more substantive ways, and, many disappeared entirely. The report concludes with a discussion of possible reforms for the process, including a defined and permanent role for consumers, independence, setting benchmarks, and other safeguards.

    Dixon will be testifying today about the report and other privacy issues at a hearing, “Understanding Consumer Attitudes About Privacy” held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade.

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