The Federal Trade Commission (“Commission”) is expected to release a report recommending new privacy principles for online and offline data collection and use for marketing and advertising purposes. This report follows a series of roundtable discussions held by the Commission to explore new approaches to consumer privacy. The first roundtable, held in December 2009, considered online behavioral advertising, consumer expectations, practices of information brokers, and existing regulatory frameworks. A second roundtable was held in January 2010. This roundtable focused on the benefits and risks created by technology and privacy considerations associated with social networking, cloud computing, and mobile marketing. The third roundtable was hosted in March 2010 and covered the collection and use of health data and other forms of sensitive consumer information.

The report is expected to build upon the themes explored during the series of privacy roundtables and will likely address the following broad topics:

  • Privacy by design. The report may touch upon the value of building privacy and security from the inception into companies’ procedures, systems, products, services, and technologies.
  • Increased transparency with timely short form disclosures. The report may call for privacy notices that are more standard and consistent with respect to size and format. The report may also recommend the use of short form notices that include material terms.
  • Simple consumer choice. The report may suggest streamlining choices for consumers so that they may focus on uses of data they would not normally expect instead of common practices.
  • Consumer and business education. The report may address means to promote business and consumer education to increase consumers’ understanding of data collection and use, and the steps that they can take to preserve privacy.

The report may also address the notion of a “Do Not Track” registry. During a July Senate Commerce Committee hearing, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz noted that the Commission was evaluating the concept of a Do Not Track List, which would enable consumers to opt-out of having their Internet activities tracked for advertising purposes.