FTC to Issue Privacy Report

The Federal Trade Commission will issue a long-awaited report later today on online privacy and what can be done to make it easier for consumers to safeguard their online privacy and activity.

The 434-page report will also address the concept of establishing a “Do Not Track” registry, the subject of Thursday’s hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection.

“Self-regulation has not kept pace with technology,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, who previewed the report at the Consumer Watchdog’s conference in Washington, D.C. Vladeck is scheduled to testify at tomorrow’s hearing. “The release [of the report] will lay out a framework for moving forward,” he added.

There has been some argument from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and other Internet companies that a “Do Not Track” registry is technically not feasible. But Vladeck disagreed. “We believe there are technological means to implement a ‘Do Not Track’ system,” he said. “There have been concerns about enforceability. We believe there are the means to enforce.”

If there were to be a “Do Not Track” registry, it would have to come from Congress. The FTC does not have the authority, but would be the agency to implement it.

Comments on the FTC’s report are due Jan. 31, 2011.

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