New FTC consumer privacy report advocates for a “Do Not Track” option, greater transparency

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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has issued a final report today aimed at protecting privacy among consumers.

With more purchasing happening over the internet, it’s clear that we’re entering a new age of consumerism. That means businesses can collect data about each shopper from a variety of sources, which can be used to grow sales. The new report basically acknowledges that as a fact, and offers “best practices” for businesses and legislators when it comes to consumer data.

Among the things the FTC is advocating for is a standard “Do Not Track” option that all businesses should offer to consumers. It also contains recommendations for mobile shopping, greater transparency regarding all third-party data collecting firms, and a proposed self-regulatory code of practices.

“If companies adopt our final recommendations for best practices – and many of them already have – they will be able to innovate and deliver creative new services that consumers can enjoy without sacrificing their privacy,” said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. “We are confident that consumers will have an easy to use and effective Do Not Track option by the end of the year because companies are moving forward expeditiously to make it happen and because lawmakers will want to enact legislation if they don’t.”

Here’s a brief overview of what the report is suggesting:

  • Privacy by Design – companies should build in consumers’ privacy protections at every stage in developing their products. These include reasonable security for consumer data, limited collection and retention of such data, and reasonable procedures to promote data accuracy.
  • Simplified Choice for Businesses and Consumers – companies should give consumers the option to decide what information is shared about them, and with whom. This should include a Do-Not-Track mechanism that would provide a simple, easy way for consumers to control the tracking of their online activities.
  • Greater Transparency – companies should disclose details about their collection and use of consumers’ information, and provide consumers access to the data collected about them.

The full report is available via PDF here. If you have a chance to read all 112-pages, let us know what you think in the comments.

Forehead bar code photo via Lasse Kristensen/ShutterStock