FTC Examines Cloud Privacy

Stephen Yagielowicz
One issue that must be faced by all website operators is protecting the privacy of visitors — or of at least clearly informing them about it when you're not protecting their privacy. This isn't simply a matter of being polite, it's most often a matter of law; and for U.S.-based webmasters, online privacy is a matter that is increasingly falling under the close scrutiny of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The Federal Trade Commission is a part of the U.S. government that works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.

One recent initiative being taken by the Commission is the holding of a series of public roundtables intended to address evolving consumer privacy issues. These day-long meetings are slated "to explore the privacy challenges posed by the vast array of 21st century technology and business practices that collect and use consumer data."

According to the Commission, these practices include "social networking, cloud computing, online behavioral advertising, mobile marketing, and the collection and use of information by retailers, data brokers, third-party applications, and other diverse businesses."

Intended to help determine how best to protect consumer privacy while supporting beneficial uses of the information and technological innovation, the discussions "will consider the risks and benefits of information collection and use in online and offline contexts, consumer expectations surrounding various information management practices, and the adequacy of existing legal and self-regulatory regimes to address privacy interests."

Targeting stakeholders representing a wide range of views and experiences, such as academics, privacy experts, consumer advocates, industry participants and associations, technology experts, legislators, international representatives, and others, the Privacy Roundtables are free and open to the public and will also be webcast at FTC.gov, which is also soliciting written comments and research.

More information is available at the FTC website.

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