The Federal Trade Commission (the "FTC") recently released a preliminary staff report entitled Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers, proposing a normative framework for company protection of consumers’ privacy (the "Proposed Framework"). The Proposed Framework is intended to inform policymakers as they develop solutions, policies and potential laws governing privacy. It is also intended to guide and motivate industry to develop more robust and effective best practices and self-regulatory guidelines.

The Proposed Framework would apply broadly to online and offline commercial entities that collect, maintain, share, or otherwise use consumer data that can be reasonably linked to a specific consumer, computer or device. Among the guidelines outlined for companies in the Proposed Framework are (i) building privacy protection into everyday business practices; (ii) providing choices to consumers about their data practices in a simpler, more streamlined way; (iii) making data practices more transparent to consumers; (iv) providing consumers with reasonable access to the data that companies maintain about them; and (v) undertaking a broad effort to educate consumers about commercial data practices and the choices available to them.

The FTC seeks comments by February 18, 2011 on each component of the Proposed Framework and how the Proposed Framework might apply in the real world. Interested parties are encouraged to raise and comment upon related issues. Based on comments received, the FTC plans to issue a final report in 2011. If you would like EAPD to assist you with preparing and submitting comments, please click the "Email the Editor" button and provide your contact information for follow-up by an EAPD attorney.

Click here to view the Proposed Framework.