FTC Initiates Data Broker Study, Will Release Revised COPPA Rule Tomorrow
Finishing up a very busy year on the privacy front, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today announced that it is initiating a study on the “Data Broker Industry’s Collection and Use of Consumer Data.” The Commission issued orders requiring nine “data brokerage companies” to provide the agency with information about how they collect and use data about consumers, and it will use the responses it receives to prepare a study and to make recommendations on whether, and how, the data broker industry could improve its privacy practices.
And the Commission announced that the much-anticipated revisions to the COPPA Rule, providing regulations for Internet sites and services directed towards children, will be released tomorrow. Stay tuned.
Data Broker Briefing Reveals Complex Data Ecosystem
Last week, in a briefing convened by the Congressional Privacy Caucus, co-chairs Ed Markey (D-MA) and Joe Barton (R-TX) explored the roles of “data brokers,” along with two chief regulators from the FTC, Chairman Jon Leibowitz and Commissioner Julie Brill. The briefing and discussion was wide-ranging, and if anything, it seemed to raise more questions than provide answers.
If there was one single over-arching takeaway for me, it was that there exists a very complex data ecosystem that includes consumers, businesses and governments, and it’s increasingly difficult to label entities for purposes of creating new laws and regulations. I have written a blog post summarizing the key themes I took out of this briefing at the SIIA Digital Discourse blog.
SIIA Calls for Legislation to Fight Patent Trolls
Last week, SIIA joined with several other trade associations to issue a formal call on Congress to enact legislation that provides more safeguards to prevent the economic and consumer harm caused by abusive patent lawsuits.
Although the America Invents Act was an effective first step in addressing the problem of abusive patent litigation by trolls, patent trolls continue to damage the economy, hurt America’s tech industry, and threaten innovation. In calling on Congress to do more, SIIA has outlined a specific proposal, which was articulated in the joint letter to congressional leaders, for legislation that would help address this problem. Read more on SIIA’s Digital Discourse Blog.
State Department Refutes Global Cloud Myths, Defends U.S. Providers
In early December, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, William Kennard, addressed Forum Europe’s 3rd Annual European Data Protection and Privacy Conference, and responded to the myth that the U. S. system of government access to information is a threat to the privacy rights of citizens of the other countries. He was especially effective in rebutting concerns directed at cloud computing, where the misconception has developed that information stored in cloud computing servers can be accessed by the U.S. government without any effective privacy controls. This very welcome effort to refute false barriers to U.S. cloud providers was also accompanied the release of State Department white paper that dispels the misconceptions about the U.S. legal system and government access to information. While SIIA is a leading proponent of policy changes to better enable U.S. cloud providers to compete around the world, this strong defense of current U.S. policies and practices of U.S. cloud providers is a very helpful for alleviating many of the misperceptions that currently serve as a barrier in global markets. Read more on SIIA’s Digital Discourse Blog.
David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy.