The Federal Trade Commission held a workshop on September 15, entitled "Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?" where FTC Commissioner Julie Brill emphasized the push to place more scrutiny on data brokers, reaffirming ideas and objectives expressed in the FTC's May 2014 report on transparency and accountability.… Continue Reading
In January, President Obama called on senior government officials to lead a review of the implications of Big Data for privacy, the economy and public policy. A Federal Register Notice by the White House's Science and Technology Policy Office sought comments from industry participants on a variety of issues related to Big Data. Earlier this week, the ANA submitted its comments in response to the Notice, focusing on the public policy implications of the collection, storage, analysis, and use of Big Data. In determining what the potential concerns of Big Data are, the ANA said that the focus should be on the sensitivity and potential vulnerability to harm of the data, not the amount of data in and of itself. As an example, the ANA pointed out that, "[c]ommercial privacy issues must not be allowed to be conflated with government surveillance and potential reforms at the NSA. These issues must not be confused with interest-based advertising or online behavioral advertising (OBA)." The ANA also urged that any governmental decisions about commercial data collection and use be made "carefully, correctly and judiciously." In its comments, the ANA highlighted the progress made over the past few years by the private sector to enhance privacy protections for consumers, making specific reference to the self-regulatory efforts by the Digital Advertising Alliance.… Continue Reading
Back in June, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill unveiled an initiative called, "Reclaim Your Name" at the Computer Freedom and Privacy Conference. Her proposed initiative is directed to the big data industry and calls on data brokers to give consumers more control over their personal data. According to Commissioner Brill, Reclaim Your Name would "empower the consumer to find out how brokers are collecting and using data; give her access to information that data brokers have amassed about her; allow her to opt-out if she learns a data broker is selling her information for marketing purposes; and provide her the opportunity to correct errors in information used for substantive decisions - like credit, insurance, employment, and other benefits."
Commissioner Brill followed up her remarks at the Conference with an op-ed piece in the Washington Post earlier this month, again demanding transparency from data brokers. In her op-ed, Commissioner Brill likened the efforts of data brokers who collect data on surfing habits and app usage to the type of information the NSA was collecting. She also opined that "personal data could be -- and probably are -- used by firms making decisions that aren't regulated by the FCRA but still affect users' lives profoundly" and that these decisions include whether consumers are too risky to do business with or aren't right for certain clubs, dating services, schools or other programs.… Continue Reading
In response to the mounting data privacy concerns attributed to the proliferation of smart devices, the FTC will be holding a public workshop on November 21, 2013, addressing questions over the "Internet of Things." Two public interest groups, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), have already submitted comments expressing their concerns over the privacy implications related to this topic, which include the tracking of daily behaviors and personal habits.… Continue Reading