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Privacy Government United States News

FTC May Cast A Closer Eye On How Businesses Share Personal Data 72

Posted by timothy
from the you're-saying-you-didn't-read-the-even-finer-print dept.
Personal information shared by users with corporate websites is nothing new; you probably routinely log in to sites to which you've provided information about your age and location, or provided a credit card number in order to buy merchandise. At least sometimes, some of that information is shared in ways that the typical user would probably neither anticipate nor appreciate. David Vladeck, new head of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, has signaled recently that he's interested in tighter regulation of personal information shared online, even when it falls under the often-sweeping language of privacy agreements and sites' terms of use. An interview at the New York Times provides some insight into the regulatory environment that companies operating online may face in the course of the present administration — and it looks more stringent than online businesses have faced before, even while Vladeck shies away from saying that he supports "new rules."
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FTC May Cast A Closer Eye On How Businesses Share Personal Data

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  • ...and I'm here to help you protect your privacy.

    Please show me your RFID passport, give your liquids to the nice man from the TSA, and tell me your social-security number so I can enter it into my laptop.

    • . . . give your liquids to the nice man from the TSA . . .

      "I refuse to give them my 'precious bodily fluids'" - General Jack Ripper

      • . . . give your liquids to the nice man from the TSA . . .

        "I refuse to give them my 'precious bodily fluids'" - General Jack Ripper

        You don't avoid the TSA, you just refuse them your essence.

    • ...and I'm here to help you protect your privacy.

      Can we please give the government a little credit when they at least try to start trying to do the right thing? Is that too much trouble?

      Would the FTC even have thought of anything like this during the last administration? Personally, after a decade of corporate anal rampage, I'm happy to see consumer protection starting to make a comeback. At least it's a step in the right direction.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rtb61 (674572)

        Privacy invasions certainly are not what they used to be. Now trained psychologists, in fact people with doctrates, work on wasy to manipulate peoples choices on an individual basis not for the benefit of the people they are manipulating but for greater profits for corporations. It is hard to tell those psychologists that worked with tortures to make that torture more effective of those psychologists who try to manipulate societies to feed the greed of a minority regardless of the the harm, they know, not

      • by JNSL (1472357)
        Can we please give the government a little credit when they at least try to start trying to do the right thing? Is that too much trouble?

        Neither a fan of Bush nor Obama here - pretty ambivalent. But you'd be kidding yourself if you didn't think each administration wasn't doing what they thought was the right thing with respect to issues like this.
        • by Ironica (124657)

          Neither a fan of Bush nor Obama here - pretty ambivalent. But you'd be kidding yourself if you didn't think each administration wasn't doing what they thought was the right thing with respect to issues like this.

          Well, yes... but under Bush, "What was right" was "If you don't have anything to hide, why do you need privacy?" Fear of terr'rists was used to bully Americans into giving up their expectation of privacy in their everyday lives. At the same time, corporate regulation was almost a swear-word.

          This move is definitely in a different direction, and it's one I think we've needed for a loooooong time. Why should only health care providers be required to protect your personal info?

          • by JNSL (1472357)
            To be clear, I was responding to HangingChad's plea for credit to the Obama administration. It had nothing to do with whether I thought the policy should or shouldn't have been as it is or was, for either administration, but whether the administration was trying to do the right thing. Both tried. You agree that one got it right, and the other didn't. Fine. I probably even agree with you. But credit is deserved for anybody who tries to do the right thing, and both administrations deserve credit for that. If
            • by Ironica (124657)

              To be clear, I was responding to HangingChad's plea for credit to the Obama administration. It had nothing to do with whether I thought the policy should or shouldn't have been as it is or was, for either administration, but whether the administration was trying to do the right thing. Both tried. You agree that one got it right, and the other didn't. Fine. I probably even agree with you. But credit is deserved for anybody who tries to do the right thing, and both administrations deserve credit for that. If HangingChad wants to provide general praise for that sort of thing, he shouldn't talk out of both sides of his/her mouth.

              Well, it depends on who is defining "the right thing." Yes, everyone, individually, is trying to do what they think is "right." When an undiagnosed schizophrenic kills someone because god told them to, they're "trying to do the right thing." When Harry Truman ordered the first and last nuclear strikes on live targets, he was "trying to do the right thing." When John Scopes taught his class about evolution, he was "trying to do the right thing." The public opinion may or may not agree with the individual

    • by Ironica (124657)

      ...and I'm here to help you protect your privacy.

      Please show me your RFID passport, give your liquids to the nice man from the TSA, and tell me your social-security number so I can enter it into my laptop.

      1) That's what this [thinkgeek.com] is for.
      2) My liquids don't really say much about me that's personally identifiable.
      3) "The government" is pretty explicit on just how your SSN should NOT be used as an identifier except by very particular agencies, and never as a password. The folks who violate this premise most frequently are private businesses who want to make sure they can tell on you to the credit agencies if they decide you owe them money. While there have been cases of laptops containing personally identifiable

  • Better late than never... is what I'd like to say, but jeez! It's already 2009 and this security flaw is still un-patched! Hope they get past the "investigation" phase and on to the part where things get "fixed".
  • by tacarat (696339) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @05:08PM (#29004871) Journal
    "Hi. We noticed that you've been buying a lot of condoms/birth control pills, lube and are not currently being treated for any STDs. Would you a like a free membership to our dating website?"

    "Hi. We noticed that your spouse has been buying a lot of condoms/birth control pills, lube and motel rooms within 25 miles of your home. Can we interest you in our "Super Slueth" private investigation package?"

    Yaddah yaddah.
    • by vbraga (228124) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @05:28PM (#29004963) Journal

      Better

      "Hi. We noticed that your spouse has been buying a lot of condoms/birth control pills, lube and motel rooms within 25 miles of your home. Can we interest you in our "Super Slueth" private investigation package?"

      than

      "Hi. We noticed that your spouse has been buying a lot of condoms/birth control pills, lube and motel rooms within 25 miles of your home. Would you like to see our offers on firearms?"

      • by tacarat (696339)
        Great synergy there! "Hi. We noticed that your spouse has been buying a lot of condoms/birth control pills, lube and motel rooms within 25 miles of your home. Would you like to see our offers on firearms?" would be followed by "Hi. We noticed you just got arrested for murder. Would you like to get 10 free rate quotes from defense lawyers in your area?".
      • The latter makes business sense; they could then contact the spouse with, "Hi, we noticed that your spouse is purchasing firearms in response to your infidelity; can we interest you in buying Kevlar vests and firearms as well?"
        • Then later, "Hi, we noticed you've been buying digging equipment and quicklime. Would you like to see our offers on criminal defense lawyers?"
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
        It's like what somebody said about buying your wife a gun: it's like you've decided to commit suicide, but you want it to be a surprise.
    • by PPH (736903)
      More like:

      "Hi. I'm a representative of the foreign subsidiary of a major US telecom company that handles customer support offshore. We have compiled a list of phone numbers that frequenly contact certain exchanges in Langely, Virginia. We can make this list available to you for a small fee.

      Das vidanye, comrade."

      Whoops. Too late. That stuff has been for sale for some time now.

  • Best practices (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kent_eh (543303) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @05:17PM (#29004913)
    One place to start is to look at best practices of other governments.
    I'm un-characteristically proud of what the government of Canada did in the Privacy Act [justice.gc.ca], and the creation of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner [priv.gc.ca].

    Of course, it's not perfect, but It's pretty good. Especially compared to what I see in the rest of the world.
    • This can't be true. Fox News just had a number of canada analysts on that directly said that most canadians hate their privacy acts and systems for personal information protection.

      Are you telling me that Fox would put up with paying someone who would lie to me about reality?

  • by PingXao (153057) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @07:11PM (#29005661)

    This is window dressing and nothing more. Vladeck himself says he doesn't favor more legislation. This is theater of the absurd because the FTC cares about our privacy about as much as they do about spam.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      What makes you think that the FTC doesn't care about spam? It's a difficult problem and without congress giving them the ability to directly fine companies who appear in spam messages, I'm not sure how exactly they're going to be able to solve it. Unless I'm missing something and they're able to do that without specific legislative approval.

      I can pretty much guarantee that a significant amount of spam would go away if companies were fined for paying spammers to advertise. It's not going to deal with phis

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