Nowadays, a news story on privacy is out of place if it doesn’t mention Do-Not-Track (known as “DNT”) or Big Data. While these hot topics represent key concerns for privacy professionals, advocates and regulators, there is no clear agreement on what they mean or how to address the privacy issues they raise. In this post, we consider recent developments on these topics, including how the Federal Trade Commission has sought to focus on and connect these new issues.
DNT or DNC
DNT is in the midst of a multifaceted identity crisis, starting with a disagreement over the definition of DNT. Self-regulatory organizations and the advertising industry assert that DNT stands for “Do Not Target,” referring to the use of consumer data for the purposes of targeted advertising. The FTC, buoyed by privacy advocates, appears to take the view that DNT means not only “Do Not Target” but also “Do Not Collect” (DNC). FTC Commissioner Brill elaborated at the 2012 IAPP Summit that she doesn’t view the current DNT efforts as entirely sufficient because the choice DNT offers does not give consumers appropriate protection against what Brill characterized as “limitless, unmitigated” data collection. But Brill does not argue for wholesale implementation of DNC, and has indicated that the details of the implementation of DNT/DNC will continue to remain a key focus for the FTC.
The industry has continued to respond to these concerns by trying to balance consumer and business interests. While privacy advocates want consumers to have the option to truly opt out of all information collection about them, industry leaders argue that such a move would severely undercut e-commerce in the United States. In late February, the FTC and Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) announced Obama Administration support for the DAA’s “Do Not Track” button, in which a consumer presses the button on any browser, and all participating advertisers and browsers would not store consumer information to be used in targeted advertising. But privacy advocates have expressed reservations about the solution, calling attention to the fact that the button would not allow consumers to opt out of other types of tracking, such as for market research or website analytics. Commissioner Brill has called the latest DAA proposal “a good first step” but indicated that the FTC does not fully support the DAA’s view that a “Do Not Target” industry standard is completely adequate. She explained that “Do Not Track is not just Do Not Target, but also, when the consumer so chooses, Do Not Collect.” The FTC and DAA both believe that consumer choice is the best method for advocating consumer privacy, but an agreement on what that choice should entail is a long way off.
To Continue Reading: Click Here
By: Boris Segalis &Nihar Shah