Friday, July 15, 2011
Earlier this week, there was a joint meeting between the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade and the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology to solicit the position statements on privacy from the following federal agencies: the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
What was clear from the hearing
was the recognition among all the policy-makers present that privacy is a huge issue across political affiliations. All 12 members of congress from each side of the aisle provided an opening statement on the need to preserve consumer confidence with regards to online privacy. Included in this list was the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Fred Upton.
The big three agencies testifying on privacy included FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, NTIA Assistant Secretary Larry Strickland and FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez.
Assistant Secretary Strickland stated there where three areas where the agency supported legislation
: (1) to establish baseline privacy rules for consumer data privacy, (2) create incentives for companies to develop industry wide enforceable codes of conduct for consumer data protection, and (3) increase the FTC’s enforcement authority.
Chairman Genachowski stated his agency supported the work of the other agencies, but that the FCC was focused on rule-makings aimed at protecting privacy of consumers who ride of the nation’s communications networks. He deliberated on all of his efforts in this regard
Finally, Commissioner Ramirez offered three recommendations
. First, the FTC supports a “privacy by design” model whereby companies add privacy protections during the software development stage for the creation of new online products and services. The Commissioner argued that too often companies focus on privacy protections after an online product or service has been introduced into the marketplace. Next, the FTC advocates in favor of more streamlined and user-friendly privacy notices and choice as to how consumer data is collected, managed, stored and used. Finally, the agency advocates in favor of “do not track” mechanism that would be implemented by companies that collect online consumer information.