U. S. FTC Holds First of Three Privacy Roundtable Events and Signals Policy Shift


First FTC Roundtable on Privacy: December 7, 2009, in Washington, D.C.


The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) held the first in a three-part series of one-day roundtable meetings focused on privacy on December 7, 2009, in Washington, D.C. These events are designed to bring together a variety of participants from industry, consumer advocacy organizations, trade associations, think tanks, academia and elsewhere, each with a strong interest in helping to shape the Commission’s approach to privacy regulation and enforcement.

The panel discussions featured vigorous debate and little consensus among industry, academic, and advocacy representatives. In sum, as explained in greater detail below, industry members urged continued self-regulation based on principles of notice and choice. They tended to consolidate around the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising backed by the Direct Marketing Association (“DMA”), Interactive Advertising Bureau, Association of National Advertisers, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (“The DMA Program”), which include enhanced notice coupled with increased consumer education, as well as principles addressing consumer control, data security, material changes, sensitive data, and accountability. Consumer advocates, on the other hand, largely argued that both self regulation and the notice and choice approach had failed, and most called for new laws or rules, either alone, as a baseline for those who do not adhere to strong self-regulation, or in addition to the DMA Program.

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