Key Resource

Principles for Multi-Stakeholder Process (NTIA)

On Feb. 23, 2012, nine signatory organizations published a MultiStakeholder Principles designed to guide the NTIA MultiStakeholder Process, a self-regulatory process to develop voluntary codes of conduct with industry and civil society. The document states: “The US Department of Commerce is proposing a multi-stakeholder process for developing better applications of privacy principles. For the multi-stakeholder process to succeed, it must be representative of all stakeholders and must operate under procedures that are fair, transparent, and credible. We believe the following baseline principles will provide the multi-stakeholder process the legitimacy it needs to succeed.”

US Supreme Court delivers opinion about GPS tracking

01/23/2012 GPS tracking | United States v. Jones — The US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police must get a warrant before using GPS devices to track criminal suspects. This case was narrow and dealt specifically with a GPS device physically attached to a suspect’s vehicle. The concurring opinion of Justice Sotomayor points out that the subtler issues of digital era tracking were not dealt with in this case, for example, cell phone tracking, web site tracking, etc. She wrote: “More fundamentally, it may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties. E.g., Smith, 442 U. S., at 742; United States v. Miller, 425 U. S. 435, 443 (1976).” She continued: “This approach is ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks.”

WPF Resource Page: Behavioral Advertising and Privacy

Some of the advertising that is done online comes with hooks. Using a variety of technologies, some largely unseen, online advertisers can track online activities, sometimes in profound ways that consumers are not expecting. Not all online advertising has “hooks” that are problematic or that raise privacy challenges. But a type of advertising called “behaviorally targeted advertising” often does. Behavioral advertising has two key components: tracking and targeting.

World Privacy Forum testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee

Congressional testimony — 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.