New FTC Report Recommends Changes to United States Privacy Law


On March 26, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") issued its final report on consumer privacy in the United States, entitled Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change:Recommendations for Businesses and Policymakers (the"FTC Privacy Report"). The purpose of the FTC Privacy Report is to provide companies that collect and use consumer data with an outline of best practices to implement for dealing with consumers' personal information. Another purpose is to encourage enactment of and provide guidelines for Congress when considering enactment of baseline and other targeted privacy legislation. The FTC Privacy Report, however, "is not intended to serve as a template for law enforcement actions or regulations under laws currently enforced by the FTC." Instead, it is meant to inspire and provide guidelines for change in how privacy and data protection matters are handled within the United States. Until Congress enacts legislation or regulations, or companies volunteer to self-regulate, the FTC Privacy Report merely outlines best practices for companies and businesses and does not provide the basis for legal actions.

The FTC Privacy Report reflects the FTC's final conclusions concerning current consumer privacy protections in the United States, initially described in the preliminary staff report, entitled Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers (the "Proposed Framework"), published in December 2010 and previously discussed in one of White & Case's earlier Technology Newsflash posts. Although much of the FTC Privacy Report mimics the Proposed Framework and previous statements of the Obama Administration, the current report includes notable revisions as a result of the FTC's numerous roundtable discussions and over 450 comments submitted from businesses, academics and consumers following the issuance of the Proposed Framework.

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