Privacy Groups Blast FTC Policy

Privacy Groups Blast FTC Policy

The Federal Trade Commission has issued new policies on the way websites collect, save and share data about users – in other words, on targeted advertising. Its new Staff Report on Behavioral Advertising expands guidelines for advertisers, and essentially calls for self-regulation by the industry, to "encourage privacy protections while maintaining a competitive marketplace."

But that’s not good enough for privacy advocates. Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy told the BBC that self-regulation hasn’t worked, saying:

"The time for baby steps to protect online privacy is long passed, there need to be laws."

"The Commission is supposed to serve as the nation’s leading consumer protection agency. But for too long it has buried its mandate in the ‘digital’ sand, as far as ensuring US consumer privacy is protected online.”

"The FTC should have recommended that Congress enact legislation and give people control over what information is collected and how it is used."

Indeed, two FTC members, Jon Liebowitz and Pamela Jones Harbour both wondered whether self-regulation could work. Further criticism came from the World Privacy Forum, which said that “the FTC fell down on the job," and the Institute for Public Representation, among others.

Four of the main ad organizations have agreed to work harder to maintain the self-regulation policies set in place by the FTC last year.

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