Topsy Turvy World of Privacy

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Topsy Turvy World of Privacy: World Privacy Forum blasts FTC ¬†for not taking action against companies who falsely claim they are in Safe Harbor or who don’t live up to Safe Harbor committments. Advocates critique FTC for not taking enforcement action on numerous complaints they file and argue the FTC support for self-regulation is misguided, only a law will do. Upcoming FTC report likely to continue to call for self-regulation. Department of Commerce report calls for an expanded Fair Information Practices based privacy law – first time ever for the US government -if the White House agrees with the report’s proposals. Commerce calls for additional enforcement authority and rulemaking for FTC – efforts the Commission has sought but failed to receive from a privacy friendly Congress this past term. World Privacy Forum and other advocates tell the Dept of Commerce to step back from privacy leadership and leave field to only the FTC.

Reality check: We need the FTC and Commerce working together – pushing and pulling and a combination of both law and serious but flexible and business practical self-regulation. Creating a false sense of competition or conflict will result in inaction and lack of progress – perhaps a satisfactory solution for the most aggressive data mongers and for privacy martyrs who aspire for the most profound restrictions on data. But the rest of us – ordinary internet users, reasonable businesses and practical advocates – are hoping for progress that recognizes that everyone gains when smart privacy and online trust advances.