The Federal Trade Commission released a 72 page final report that establishes the best practices for protecting consumer privacy data in the digital age. The report mirrors many of the provisions of the “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” released earlier by the White House and represents the first serious efforts at striking a balance in online consumer privacy protection related to web usage. The report offers best practices designed to give consumers more control and more choice over the information that is collected about them online and how it is used, including a Do Not Track option.
Do Not Track systems allow people to opt out of third-party tracking. The report aims for the development of a uniform Do Not Track browser standard and is hoping industry will help craft that standard. If it doesn’t happen though, the FTC made it clear it would push for a Do Not Track bill from Congress.
The report was released amid some controversy as not everyone at the FTC supports the idea of limiting the ability of private companies to collect consumer information based off of personal computer usage. FTC Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch voted against the final report. Rosch, a Republican, expressed skepticism about the industry’s willingness to enact Do Not Track, suggesting firms will simply use it as an opportunity to act opportunistically rather than in the best interests of consumers.
The issue is one that will not be going away anytime soon, especially as employers demand greater and greater access to candidate login information and accounts. But, if after this report, the FTC and industry stakeholders can’t come together and craft expansive protections for consumers under Do Not Track we can expect to see Congress taking up the fight after the election.
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