The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has just announced it will be hosting:
a series of day-long public roundtable discussions to explore the privacy challenges posed by the vast array of 21st century technology and business practices that collect and use consumer data.” Such practices include social networking, cloud computing, online behavioral advertising, mobile marketing, and the collection and use of information by retailers, data brokers, third-party applications, and other diverse businesses. The goal of the roundtables is to determine how best to protect consumer privacy while supporting beneficial uses of the information and technological innovation. The roundtable discussions will consider the risks and benefits of information collection and use in online and offline contexts, consumer expectations surrounding various information management practices, and the adequacy of existing legal and self-regulatory regimes to address privacy interests.
The first of these roundtables will be held on December 7, 2009 at the FTC Conference Center in Washington, D.C. Additional information can be found here.
I’m sure my colleague Berin Szoka will have much more to say about this in coming days and weeks — and I very much hope the FTC will invite him in to testify — but, for now, I just want to reiterate the three key challenges we have been posing again and again and again and again in all our work on this subject:
- Identify the harm or market failure that requires government intervention.
- Prove that there is no less restrictive alternative to regulation.
- Explain how the benefits of regulation outweigh its costs.
I hope those issues are front and center at these workshops and we get some firm answers because the dangers of breaking the very few Internet business models that actually work is a very steep price to pay for the conjectural harms bandied about by some privacy zealots.