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Washington
FTC issues how-to guidelines on protecting consumers data
WASHINGTON (3/27/12)--A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) final report on data security released Monday said companies using and storing consumer information to innovate and deliver better products and services to consumers should not do so at the expense of consumer privacy.

"Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change" lays out a framework for businesses to follow in protecting consumers' personal data.

The report's executive summary notes that with the use in "today's world of smart phones, smart grids, and smart cars," there is more information sharing than ever before. The 72-page document then goes on to describe a framework for businesses to follow in protecting consumers' personal data.

The final report expands on a preliminary staff report the FTC issued in December 2010.

It calls on companies handling consumer data to implement recommendations for protecting privacy, including:

Privacy by Design: Companies should build in consumers' privacy protections at every stage in developing their products. These include reasonable security for consumer data, limited collection and retention of such data, and reasonable procedures to promote data accuracy;

Simplified Choice for Businesses and Consumers: Companies should give consumers the option to decide what information is shared about them, and with whom. This should include a Do-Not-Track mechanism that would provide a simple, easy way for consumers to control the tracking of their online activities; and

Greater Transparency: Companies should disclose details about their collection and use of consumers' information, and provide consumers access to the data collected about them.

The FTC report also notes that, over the course of the next year, the commission staff will promote the framework's implementation by focusing its policymaking efforts on five main action items: Do not track; mobile; data brokers; large platform providers; and, promoting enforceable self-regulatory codes.

The commissioners voted 3-1 to approve the report, with Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch dissenting. 

Use the resource link to access the report and to read the dissenting opinion.
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