The Federal Trade Commission has announced that it will host a public workshop on December 6 to discuss the privacy issues raised by the collection of data about consumers’ online activities by so-called large platform providers. According to the scheduling notice, the FTC seeks to explore the potential privacy issues raised by the collection of data by Internet Service Providers, operating systems, browsers, and social media. Specifically, the FTC seeks to examine such questions as:
- What methods are used to collect data about consumers’ activities across the Internet?
- What are the benefits of comprehensive data collection and what are the possible privacy challenges?
- Which entities are capable of comprehensive data collection, and which of them are doing so?
- How aware are consumers of comprehensive data collection, and what are their attitudes toward it?
- If companies implement comprehensive data collection, how can they effectively inform consumers about the collection and provide meaningful choice to consumers?
- What privacy risks are created by serving as a host for third-party applications?
- Are there sufficient choices among online products and services to give consumers meaningful options should they wish to avoid products or services that use comprehensive data collection?
- What legal protections currently exist in this area?
- What legal protections should be provided?
The scheduled workshop is one of five main action items adopted by the FTC as part of its March 2012 report, Protecting Consumer Privacy In an Era of Rapid Change. The other action items pertain to the implementation of Do Not Track, mobile privacy issues, data broker privacy issues, and promoting enforceable self-regulatory codes.