New FTC Group To Address Net Privacy Issues

Advertisers are closely watching the formation of a new government-advisory committee, which will determine how consumers access their personal data collected by e-commerce sites, and how that data is protected.
The Federal Trade Commission here, under chairman Robert Pitofsky, will use its 30-mem-
ber committee’s final recommendations to see if industry self-regulation is addressing concerns over privacy. This will occur when the FTC conducts another survey of Web sites in the next few months.
“We will look at the privacy policies themselves to see how well they are addressing the issues of notice, choice, access and security,” said David Medine, the FTC’s associate director for financial practices, who will chair the committee meetings. “As we review the substance of the policy, it is important to have a benchmark to assess them.”
Advertisers are worried that the committee might adopt methods that would be costly to implement.
“We need to have guidelines that do not unreasonably restrict targeting to consumers,” said Wallace Snyder, president of the American Advertising Federation here.
Industry representatives are also concerned that such guidelines could choke e-commerce. “What is most important is we do nothing to undermine the growth and health of the Net,” said Dan Jaffe, executive vice president at the Association of National Advertisers.
Privacy has been a growing concern for consumers and the issue is being scrutinized by Congress.
Both the AAF and the ANA nominated representatives to be on the committee. The FTC will announce the final panelists after Jan. 20.