FTC Hosts Workshop on Comprehensive Consumer Data Collection

Last week, the FTC hosted the public workshop, The Big Picture – Comprehensive Online Data Collection,” which focused on the privacy concerns relating to the comprehensive collection of consumer online data by Internet service providers, operating systems, browsers, search engines, and social media. The workshop, which fulfilled an action item contained in the FTC’s March 2012 final privacy report, featured a series of panels with representatives from government, academia, consumer groups, privacy professionals, and the technology industry who discussed the risks and benefits, consumer awareness and perceptions, and the future of online data collection.

According to the Commission, the purpose of the workshop was to identify differences in how existing online technologies collect consumer data, and determine whether these differences should have any bearing on current privacy policy discussions. The FTC and other stakeholders will use the information obtained during the workshop to assess whether certain technologies, such as deep packet inspection (“DPI”), warrant heightened restrictions or enhanced consumer consent requirements.

The topic and timing of the workshop provide clear indicators that consumer online privacy will remain an important area of focus for the Commission in 2013, both in terms of enforcement and potential policy initiatives. Please see the Kelley Drye client advisory for a summary of the key topics discussed during the workshop.