EU

WPF on EASA: Self-Regulation on Online Behavioral Advertising No Longer Credible

Comments on EASA –The World Privacy Forum submitted comments today on the European Advertising Standards Alliance’s Best Practice Recommendation on Online Behavioural Advertising. Our comments focus upon three key areas: First, the EASA recommendation fails to recognize the protection of consumer privacy in Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA) as a key policy goal. Second, the recommendation’s protections are narrow, creating illusory protections for user privacy, whether or not they opt out of OBA. Finally, we critique the oversight and compliance mechanisms, which are not likely to foster consumer confidence nor police the industry. Drawing upon the WPF’s 2007 report, The NAI: Failing at Consumer Protection and at Self-Regulation, the comments argue that EASA’s approach suffers from the same weaknesses as self-regulatory approaches deployed in the United States, and that European lawmakers should not replicate the failed American approach. Law students from the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic helped draft the comments as part of an ongoing project on consumer privacy and OBA.

Report: The US Department of Commerce and International Privacy Activities: Indifference and Neglect

This report evaluates the US Department of Commerce’s international privacy programs, their efficacy, and their value to business and to consumers. The role of the Commerce Department has become more important in light of the Obama Administration’s establishment of a Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy in October 2010. The Subcommittee is chaired jointly by the Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice, and it is intended to promote “individual privacy,” among other things. [1]

This report reviews, analyzes, and summarizes major international privacy activities of the Department of Commerce, with a focus on the Safe Harbor Framework established in 2000 with the European Union in response to the requirements of the EU Data Protection Directive. The report also considers briefly the Department’s work on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Privacy Framework.

New Report on US Department of Commerce Privacy Track Record

Department of Commerce and Safe Harbor — New Report The World Privacy Forum published a new report today that evaluates the US Department of Commerce’s work on privacy protection for consumers, given its role overseeing such critical programs as the US/EU Safe Harbor data agreement. The report, The US Department of Commerce and International Privacy Activities: Indifference and Neglect, identifies a number of issues of concern regarding the Department’s privacy programs, most particularly, the current Safe Harbor framework. The report’s analysis find that three separate studies consistently show that many and perhaps most Safe Harbor participants are not in compliance with their obligations under Safe Harbor.

Facebook, MySpace, Xing receive warning letters from EU consumer group

Social networks — In the wake of Europe’s Article 29 Working Party Opinion on Social Network Providers adopted in June, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) has sent out warning letters to five social networking providers in Germany, including Facebook and MySpace. The letters focus on the excessive rights the companies allow themselves in their respective Terms of Use agreements, and on shortcomings in the privacy policies. VZBV is comprised of 41 German consumer associations.

WPF participating at TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue meeting

TACD — The World Privacy Forum participated in the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue meetings in Brussels this June, and is pleased to announce that WPF is now a full member of the TACD. The TACD is a network of 80 EU and U.S. consumer organizations that develop joint consumer policy recommendations for the EU and U.S. in an effort to promote the consumer interest in transatlantic policymaking.