Is it Time for the FTC to Hit the Reset Button on Privacy?

Several years ago, my spouse was the victim of ID theft.  It was a frightening, invasive, time-consuming process to get to the bottom of what happened, and to fix it.  She is far from the only one, however, to be victimized by identity theft.

In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission received 369,132 complaints about identity theft – or 18% of all consumer complaints reported to the FTC.  This marked the thirteenth year in a row that identity theft topped the list of consumer complaints to the FTC.

Lately, the FTC has been heavily focused on issues such as “comprehensive online data collection.” And while the issues raised by data collection practices merit attention, the persistent scourge that is identity theft is receiving far less focus than it deserves.  So this begs the question, as the FTC welcomes a new Chairwoman in Edith Ramirez and establishes a new agenda for 2013:  Is it time for the FTC to hit the reset button?

The FTC has a real opportunity to refocus on what is undoubtedly a difficult issue – identity theft – a very real problem that creates a significant risk of fraud and monetary harm.  They could do this by analyzing the most pressing privacy issues facing consumers — the current online threats and vulnerabilities, the security protocols that can reduce the likelihood of identity theft, and ways that consumers can be empowered to protect themselves from identity thieves.

Yes, it is time for the FTC to hit the reset button, and focus on one of the greatest threats facing consumers today:  Identity theft.


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. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPubPolicy.

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