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ISPLA-Internet Privacy Update

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  • Peter Psarouthakis
    In the past year, The Wall Street Journal s What They Know series has revealed that popular websites install thousands of tracking technologies on people s
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 18, 2011
      "In the past year, The Wall Street Journal's 'What They Know' series has
      revealed that popular websites install thousands of tracking technologies on
      people's computers without their knowledge, feeding an industry that gathers
      and sells information on their finances, political leanings and religious
      interests, among other things." - March 16, 2011 WSJ

      On March 16, 2011, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and
      Transportation heard testimony from its chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller [D-WV]
      and witnesses from the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Commerce,
      Microsoft, GroupM Interaction, an independent researcher, Intuit, and the
      ACLU.

      Testimony is available on line at the Commerce Committee's website. The ACLU
      paper "The State of Online Consumer Privacy" is an excellent reference
      source for privacy issues material, especially the links identified in its
      footnotes. Over the years a number of ISPLA members, as well as I, have
      relied on much of the same material when meeting with legislators, privacy
      advocates, and business leaders or preparing testimony on issues affecting
      investigative and security professionals.



      The subject of consumer privacy relative to the Internet is one being
      closely monitored by ISPLA. However, this issue presently does not warrant
      excessive involvement of lobbying resources at the present time by our
      members. But the issue does bear watching. The major players from all
      perspectives have far greater resources than our profession. What we must
      make certain is that the recommendations evolving from hearings such as
      this, as well as other pending legislation in the House and Senate do not
      expand beyond Internet tracking. ISPLA has previously reported on separate
      legislation offered by Rep. Bobby Rush [D-IL-1], Rep. Cliff Stearns
      [R-FL-6], Sen. John McCain [R-AZ] and Sen. John Kerry [D-MA], as well as
      proposed "Do Not Track" regulations by the FTC. Most of the Senate Commerce
      Committee excerpts below were prepared by the Democrat members of the
      committee.

      Key Quotations from the Hearing:

      "Now, I appreciate that we live in a world in which online technology is
      rapidly evolving. I know some online companies have taken steps to address
      consumer privacy. And, I appreciate the need to proceed carefully when
      providing consumer protections that may disrupt the functionality of the
      Internet. But Congress can no longer sit on the sidelines. There is an
      online privacy war going on, and without help, consumers will lose. We must
      act to give Americans the basic online privacy protections they deserve." -
      Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV

      "In light of the concerns expressed about online tracking, the [Preliminary
      FTC] Staff Report recommended a Do Not Track mechanism. A robust, effective
      Do Not Track system would ensure that consumers can opt out once, rather
      than having to exercise choices on a company-by-company or
      transaction-by-transaction basis. Such a universal mechanism could be
      accomplished through legislation or potentially through robust, enforceable
      self-regulation." - Jon D. Leibowitz, Chairman, Federal Trade Commission

      "Having carefully reviewed all stakeholder comments to the Green Paper, the
      Department has concluded that the U.S. consumer data privacy framework will
      benefit from legislation to establish a clearer set of rules for the road
      for businesses and consumers, while preserving the innovation and free flow
      of information that are hallmarks of the Internet." - Lawrence E.
      Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and
      Information, National Telecommunications and Information Administration,
      U.S. Department of Commerce

      "In the digital era, privacy is no longer about being 'let alone.' Privacy
      is about knowing what data is being collected and what is happening to it,
      having choices about how it is collected and used, and being confident that
      it is secure." - Erich D. Andersen, Vice President and Deputy General
      Counsel, Microsoft Corporation

      "We want to build consumer trust in the online experience, and therefore we
      believe that consumers should be able to choose whether and how their data
      is collected or used for online behavioral advertising. Our clients also
      want to provide these choices to maintain the confidence of their customers.
      Global companies work hard every day to protect their brands, and they
      recognize that their customers may have different preferences about online
      advertising." - John Montgomery, Chief Operating Officer, GroupM
      Interaction

      "Consumers need more transparency into who is tracking them online, what
      data is being collected, and how this data is being used, shared or sold.
      Today's technical defenses to online tracking are not able to stop the
      leading tracking technologies, and consumers often do not have meaningful
      ways to control them. To be effective, privacy protections for consumers
      online will likely require both a technical and policy component, working in
      tandem, and I believe these discussions here today are a great step in
      making that union a reality." - Ashkan Soltani, Researcher and Consultant

      "As we enter this important discussion, it is necessary to further emphasize
      the importance of both respect for the consumer participation and control of
      information and the value and benefit of continued innovation, in particular
      where the future of economic growth is going-data driven innovation. The key
      to our success and to ensuring balance among these interests is earning the
      customers trust." - Barbara Lawler, Chief Privacy Officer, Intuit, Inc.

      "If this collection of data is allowed to continue unchecked, then
      capitalism will build what the government never could-a complete
      surveillance state online. Without government intervention, we may soon find
      the internet has been transformed from a library and playground to a
      fishbowl, and that we have unwittingly ceded core values of privacy and
      autonomy." - Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties
      Union

      The Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs), written over thirty years
      ago, in the view of the ACLU has become the basis for comprehensive privacy
      laws in most of the industrialized world as well as sector specific privacy
      laws in the United States. In 2008 the Privacy Office of the Department of
      Homeland Security formally adopted them in its analysis of DHS programs. And
      in a recent report, the Department of Commerce recommended that the FIPPs as
      described by DHS be adopted as the basis for internet regulation. The FIPPs
      stand for eight relatively straightforward ideas:
      . Transparency: Individuals should have clear notice about the data
      collection practices involving them.
      . Individual Participation: Individuals should have the right to consent to
      the use of their information.
      . Purpose Specification: Data collectors should describe why they need
      particular information.
      . Data Minimization: Information should only be collected if it's needed.
      . Use Limitation: Information collected for one purpose shouldn't be used
      for another.
      . Data Quality and Integrity: Information should be accurate.
      . Security: Information should be kept secure.
      . Accountability and Auditing: Data collectors should know who has accessed
      information and how it is used.


      While some adjustments will have to be made to conform to new technologies,
      international internet data collection practices, as well as the data
      collection practices of other sectors of the US economy, are already
      governed by the FIPPs. To imply as some have done that application of these
      regulations in this case would cause serious harm to the internet and
      e-commerce seems overstated at best. These protections must be embodied in
      law, not just in industry practice, according to the ACLU.



      The ACLU written testimony indicates that the rapid adoption of new
      testimony has not eliminated Americans' expectations of privacy. They
      reference a 2009 study by Joseph Turow, et al, which indicates that 69% of
      Internet users want the legal right to know everything that a Web site knows
      about them and 92% want the right to require websites to delete information
      about them.



      Consumers also oppose Internet tracking according to a 2010 study by Lymari
      Morale which indicates that 67% reject the idea that advertisers should be
      able to match ads based on specific websites consumers visit, and 61%
      believe these practices were not justified even if they kept costs down and
      allowed consumers to visit websites for free. Thus, Americans, although
      making great use of the Internet are still very concerned over their privacy
      and troubled by the practice of behavioral targeting. They expect their
      online activities will remain private, hence the ongoing efforts by Congress
      and regulators to propose solutions to protect consumers' Internet privacy.



      In closing, the recent Wall Street Journal article states:



      "The administration's plan to push for legislation reflects a shifting
      attitude by the government, which for more than a decade favored a hands-off
      approach to the Internet. Officials have said the increasing intrusiveness
      of online tracking has forced them to reassess that approach."



      ISPLA's mission is help contain such government regulatory efforts to just
      Internet activities and make certain such legislation does not expand to
      data collected or disseminated by investigators.



      Bruce Hulme

      ISPLA Director of Government Affairs

      Investigative & Security Professionals for Legislative Action



      <http://www.ispla.org/> www.ISPLA.org - "Real Investigators, Real
      Professionals, Real Representation"



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