FTC Proposes New Privacy Framework

In December 2010, the Federal Trade Commission issued an extensive staff report outlining a proposed new framework for consumer privacy protections for use by businesses.  The report, a copy of which is available here, results from an extensive review and a series of public roundtables conducted by the FTC over the past year on evolving privacy issues.

The framework contemplates three core principles: (i) so-called “privacy by design”, which requires an organization to promote sound privacy practices throughout all aspects of their operations and product or service offerings, (ii) simplified consumer choice, and (iii) greater transparency about data practices.  The report is useful in providing extensive background on the FTC’s enforcement activities in the privacy area.

Because the FTC plans to sort through the public comments solicited on the report (the comment deadline was recently extended from January 31 to February 18) and to decide later in 2011 what further recommendations it might make based on that feedback, it is too early to assess whether the proposed framework will, in fact, result in a notable shift in the FTC’s approach to enforcement of offline and online privacy practices.

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