WPF Comments on the FTC Privacy Report — 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.
The World Privacy Forum filed comments today criticizing the SEC proposed regulations that would release an unprecedented amount of financial details about individual borrowers through the EDGAR database. The WPF was joined by other privacy, consumer, and human rights organizations in its comments, which focused on the privacy issues with the proposed regulations. Pam Dixon, executive director of the WPF, stated in the comments that the SEC’s new regulations would “Place on the public record and online the largest amount of personal financial information about borrowers ever disclosed, including information never before made public.” The comments also note that the SEC’s plan greatly increases the risk of identity theft for individual borrowers whose information will be released publicly.
The World Privacy Forum filed comments last week for the FTC Privacy Roundtables, the first of which will be held December 7, 2009. The WPF comments urged the FTC to consider the Fair Credit Reporting Act as a key privacy model to apply to additional areas, to use the full version of Fair Information Practices, and discussed how a rights-based framework was the key to advancing consumers’ interests. The comments discussed list brokers at length, and explained how even the most informationally cautious consumer will land on numerous marketing lists and databases. The WPF comments noted that not all marketing lists are used to target ads to consumers; some lists and databases are used to deny consumers goods and services. The comments contain a detailed section on privacy frameworks, a section on direct marketing, and an appendix with supporting information.
Medical privacy — Some recent articles about the sale of patients’ prescription histories to insurance companies have raised many consumer questions about this practice. Ingenix and Milliman — two companies engaged in this practice — were the subject of a Federal Trade Commission enforcement action which was published for comment in September 2007. The World Privacy Forum provided formal comments to the Federal Trade Commission last year about this enforcement action; the WPF sought to have all affected consumers notified of adverse actions taken based on the information, and asked the FTC to modify its enforcement action to include an appropriate monetary penalty against the two companies.
Financial privacy / credit reports — The NCLC, Consumer’s Union, and the World Privacy Forum filed extensive joint comments today regarding the proposed rulemaking, Procedures to Enhance the Accuracy and Integrity of Information Furnished to Consumer Reporting Agencies under Section 312 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. The results of the proposed rulemaking will have a significant impact on how the accuracy of credit reports is defined for consumers, and will have a substantive influence over how consumers may handle credit report disputes directly with those who furnish information for the reports.