After months of anticipation, the Federal Trade Commission announced earlier today its staff report on privacy. The report sets forward an updated framework to address the increasingly complex threats to consumers' privacy.
The new principles announced by the FTC are extremely strong. The report acknowledges that the FTC’s previous approach focusing on notice-and-choice and harms have not provided sufficient privacy protection to consumers. The new framework centers on three principal ideas: privacy by design, simplified choice, and greater transparency. However, a full reading of the report shows that the FTC has thought deeply about how to protect consumer privacy, and the framework incorporates all the Fair Information Practice principles, including purpose specification, data minimization, data quality, and access.
Of course, the key question is how will these principles be implemented. The report is largely agnostic on that question. The FTC, without administrative rulemaking authority, lacks the power to embody its framework in regulation. Instead, the FTC has said that the report should serve as a guide to both industry and lawmakers.
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