Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz delivered the keynote speech at a forum on Internet privacy on Oct. 11, 2011. He was part of a panel that discussed the protection of consumer data and the tracking of online consumer behavior. The Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society also released a study the same day showing that data collection on the Internet is not anonymous and information about consumers is often leaked from websites.
Leibowitz emphasized that there are three key principles to protecting the privacy of consumers on the Internet. First, companies in the business of collecting and storing data need to build strong privacy policies. Data should be kept only for legitimate business needs and the more sensitive the data is, the more careful they need to be.
Second, there needs to be transparency. If data is being collected then consumers need to be told what is going on in a manner that they can easily understand. Lastly, there needs to be choice for the consumer. Consumers should have streamlined choices about the collection and usage of data based on their online behavior.
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