Internet and consumer privacy — The World Privacy Forum’s executive director Pam Dixon will testify about online consumer privacy before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce today.
WPF executive director Pam Dixon testified at a joint subcommittee hearing focused on privacy and the collection and use of online and offline consumer information. Dixon’s testimony focused on the new “modern permanent record” and how it is used and created. Dixon said “The merging of offline and online data is creating highly personalized, granular profiles of consumers that affect consumers’ opportunities in the marketplace and in their lives. Consumers are largely unaware of these profiles and their consequences, and they have insufficient legal rights to change things even if they did know.” The testimony explored concrete examples of problematic consumer profiling activities.
Data Broker Settlement — In April 2009, the World Privacy Forum sent the FTC a complaint regarding a lack of online opt-outs for consumers at some online data broker web sites. Our complaint focused on the difficulties online consumers would have opting out of certain web sites. In our complaint, we noted that online consumers were having difficulties with the opt outs. Today the FTC issued a final decision in this matter, and specifically improved online opt outs for consumers at US Search.
The World Privacy Forum filed comments with the FTC in response to its preliminary staff report, Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers. In our comments, we urge the FTC to take affirmative steps to protect consumer privacy online and offline. Our comments include a brief history of privacy self regulation, and point out how privacy self regulation has consistently failed. The comments also discuss Do Not Track, and urge the FTC to take a broader look at tracking protections for consumers. WPF also specifically requested that the FTC identify credit reporting bureaus subject to Fair Credit Reporting Act regulations and assist consumers in locating those bureaus.
Health privacy — The World Privacy Forum filed comments today about how medical records and other health information is intersecting with online advertising and online activities. The WPF comments were filed with the Department of Health and Human Services in response to its request for comments on personal health records, privacy, and social media.