FTC Continued Focus on Online Privacy

The FTC has announced a plan to adopt new education and data collection restrictions to better protect the consumer’s privacy.

Senior attorney for the FTC, Loretta Garrison, admitted that consumers “..sort of know they are being tracked, but they don’t really understand the weather of information that’s being collected…”

What this means for consumers is that there’s a common sense element to knowing that our movements online are being tracked, but we don’t realize just how much information is being collected.

The FTC is sensitive to the members of Internet companies who fear that greater restrictions will limit them in a marketing sector that is rapidly growing. At the same time, the FTC feels like there should be a base of privacy protection should be available to consumers, similar to the “do-not-call” registry in place for telemarketers. Garrison also added, “There ought to be an element where if they don’t want to be tracked, they ought to be able to say ‘no.’.”

This fall, the FTC is planning to release a report of recommendations for companies and advertisers and web companies to provide specific concerns over certain practices and offer suggestions to protect their user’s privacy.

These guidelines will be an extension of their “self-regulation” policies, since without a Congressional act; the FTC cannot “force” companies to abide by these sorts of changes.

The concerns are spurned from recent concerns about privacy over Google street view and some of Facebook’s recent policy changes, prompting the FTC to express concerns about consumer’s online privacy.

While an “opt in” or “opt out” suggestion may not be feasible, due to the nature of online marketing, the FTC has raised concerns about how much is being collected from consumers as they browse their favorite web sites.