Report: Many Failures – A Brief History of Privacy Self-Regulation

The report Many Failures: A Brief History of Privacy Self-Regulation, was published October 14, 2011.

Report authors: Robert Gellman and Pam Dixon

The focus of the report is on privacy self-regulation, and its historic effectiveness. This report reviews the leading efforts of the first privacy self-regulatory wave from 1997 to 2007, and includes a review of the life span, policies, and activities of the Individual Reference Services Group, Privacy Leadership Initiative, Online Privacy Alliance, Network Advertising Initiative, BBBOnline Privacy Program, US-EU Safe Harbor Framework, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, and the Platform for Privacy Preferences. A key finding of this report is that the majority of the industry self-regulatory programs that were initiated failed in one or more substantive ways, and, many disappeared entirely. The report concludes with a discussion of possible reforms for the process, including a defined and permanent role for consumers, independence, setting benchmarks, and other safeguards.


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Report: Many Failures: A Brief History of Privacy Self-Regulation | Section: Conclusion

Is there any reason to think that privacy self-regulation will work today when it did not work in the past? Privacy self-regulation done in the same way that it has been done in the past, without sufficient consumer participation, and with the same goals of simply evading real regulation and effective privacy controls will continue to fail.