from the funny-stuff dept, by Mike Masnick, Apr 27th 2012
I recently gave a talk at the Innovate/Activate conference, where I discussed where the copyright lobby had been super successful, and where it seemed some of their weaknesses were. One thing I pointed out was that they had completely lost the hearts and minds of the public — and no matter how hard they tried, they were unable to muster up any kind of public or grassroots support. As an example, I showed a photo of the massive street protests against ACTA in Poland, and questioned what a pro-ACTA demonstration might look like. Well, bizarrely, it appears that some in the Copyright Lobby had decided to try to put on a pro-ACTA demonstration… but they needed to hire people to act as ACTA supporters. Of course, when you seem to think — as the industry often appears to — that the only motivating factor possible in the world is monetary exchange, perhaps this isn’t that surprising.
The FTC put the online advertising and user tracking industry on notice Monday that it’s time to clean up its act and start treating users’ data with respect, laying out broad guidelines for companies to follow. But the agency stopped short of calling for federal regulation of online data collectors, amid protests from online companies that regulation would kill a vibrant industry.
“With this Report, the Commission calls on companies to act now to implement best practices to protect consumers’ private information. These best practices include making privacy the “default setting” for commercial data practices and giving consumers greater control over the collection and use of their personal data through simplified choices and increased transparency,” the FTC said, adding that doing so should increase user’s trust in services and increase business for all.
While there’s no stick involved yet for online companies, the report did call for federal legislation that would force transparency on giant data collection companies like Choicepoint and Lexis Nexis. Few Americans know about those companies’ databases but they are used by law enforcement, employers and landlords. The FTC is asking Congress to make it easier for Americans to view and correct their data, as legislation requires with credit bureaus.
The FTC report emphasizes what it calls “privacy by design,” alluding to the idea that privacy and data security should be built into any service, not an afterthought. The four principles called for in the report are data security, reasonable collection limits, sound retention practices, and data accuracy.