Privacy Insiders Weigh In on FTC and Commerce Reports


Over the past few weeks, the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) has been taking an informal poll from many of its advisory board members, blog readers and Facebook fans to gauge their thoughts on the recent privacy reports released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Commerce.  The FTC report was entitled, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers,” while the Department of Commerce’s Internet Safety Task Force privacy Green Paper was entitled, “Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework.”  

As our readers know, both reports were released this past December and FPF began taking our privacy insiders’ thoughts over the past month.  Among the highlights, a large majority of respondents believed consumers need to be better educated to protect personal information online, but they do not believe a “Do Not Track” measure will be passed in 2011.  Below are some of the key results provided by the respondents, and what these reports may mean for the future of privacy:

  • Almost 86% think there will not be a Do Not Track law by the end of 2011.
  • 96.4% feel consumers need to be better educated about how to protect their personal information online.
  • 71% think there will be a federal data security breach notification law by the end of 2011.
  • 71% believe the adoption of Privacy by Design by businesses will make a difference in the level of privacy protection for consumers.
  • 54% believe businesses’ preparation of Privacy Impact Statements make a difference in the level of privacy protection for consumers.
  • 50% believe the FTC will not get rulemaking authority in privacy in the foreseeable future. Some reasons include:
  1.  “They don’t need it. They are much more powerful without it.”
  2.  “It would surely be useful but I doubt it will happen while recommendations and self-regulation are offset   by patchy enforcement and disjunctive legislation.”
  3. “The Republican House will resist new federal regs.”
  • 67% believe the creation of a Privacy Policy Office, as suggested in the Green Paper, will make a difference in the coordination of privacy law at the federal level.
  • 63% do not think “full FIPPS” is a realistic future implementation by American businesses because:
  1. “It will impede their business plans and decrease revenue; if it’s voluntary, most won’t comply unless it’s tied to a safe harbor.”
  2. “It won’t enhance the corporate bottom line.”
  3. “FIPPS would undermine their ad business model.”
  • 89.3% believe the state privacy and data security laws continue to be important in providing consumer privacy protection in the years ahead.
  • 50% object to online tracking for the delivery of targeted advertising; 50% do not object.