Chairman Rockefeller and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today about data brokers, an industry that is often hidden from public view, and the impact of data brokers on consumers’ lives.
Many people have told us that they think opting out is confusing. We agree. Opting out can range from the not-too-difficult (the FTC’s Do Not Call list is a fairly simple opt out) to the challenging (the National Advertising Initiative opt out can be tricky). Our hope is that this list will clarify which opt out does what, and how to go about opting out.
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.
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.
Online privacy — The FTC sent a letter to Google today expressing concern about the company’s privacy practices, but at the same time, the FTC informed Google that it was dropping its investigation of the Street View WiFi case. The FTC wrote: “FTC staff has concerns about the internal policies and procedures that gave rise to this data collection. … the company did not discover that it had been collecting payload data until it responded to a request for information from a data protection authority.” The FTC told Google it should develop and implement procedures to properly collect, dispose of, and maintain information.