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FTC chairman: Do-not-track law may not be needed

Grant Gross | March 28, 2012
A do-not-track law focused on protecting Web users' privacy may not be necessary, with private groups working to implement recommendations from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the agency's chairman said Monday.

"You can see how complicated privacy policies have become," Leibowitz added. "Simply put, your computer is your property. No one has the right to put anything on it that you don't want."

The new report repeats the earlier draft's calls for businesses to build in privacy to their products by design, to offer consumers choice about how their personal data is used, and to provide transparency to consumers about how their data is used and collected. But the new report recommends that small businesses that handle only nonsensitive data from fewer than 5,000 customers a years, should be exempt from the privacy framework.

Common Sense Media, an advocacy group focused on children's privacy, praised the new FTC report, saying it builds on the code-of-conduct effort of President Barack Obama's administration announced in February.

"Technology and innovation are extremely important to Americans, and so is privacy," Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer said in a statement. "We can and must strike a balance that fosters innovation, continues the growth of online and mobile commerce, and protects consumers -- especially the children and teens who will be tomorrow's consumers, business leaders, and entrepreneurs."

The Software and Information Industry Association, a trade group representing software makers and digital content producers, said it welcomes the FTC's clarification of its privacy policies, but does not agree with the agency's call for new privacy laws.

With the FTC's "substantial authority" to address privacy issues, new legislation isn't needed, Ken Wasch, the group's president, said in a statement.

 

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