The Federal Trade Commission announced a new set of privacy standards today to help consumers understand what kind of information is collected on them.
From the 73-page report:
In today’s world of smart phones, smart grids, and smart cars, companies are collecting, storing, and sharing more information about consumers than ever before. Although companies use this information to innovate and deliver better products and services to consumers, they should not do so at the expense of consumer privacy.
The Commission is recommending Congress adopt general privacy legislation, but meantime, the Commission is calling on individual companies to adopt privacy policies in areas like online data collection and mobile services protections. The Commission also called for greater transparency among data brokers.
In a press release, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said,
"If companies adopt our final recommendations for best practices – and many of them already have – they will be able to innovate and deliver creative new services that consumers can enjoy without sacrificing their privacy. We are confident that consumers will have an easy to use and effective Do Not Track option by the end of the year because companies are moving forward expeditiously to make it happen and because lawmakers will want to enact legislation if they don't."
Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project has been pushing for two years to get Do Not Track to the top of the reform list. Director John M. Simpson also weighed in:
“Those efforts are paying off. The FTC’s support of Do Not Track means that consumers should have a meaningful way to control the tracking of their online activities by the end of the year."
The report expands on a Dec. 2010 preliminary report.