Opinion

Think the FTC Is the De Facto U.S. Data Protection Authority? State AGs May Have Something To Say

By Divonne Smoyer, CIPP/US
and Aaron Lancaster, CIPP/US

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has understandably been the focus of much attention in the data privacy world. The FTC is considered by many to be the primary U.S. data privacy regulator and this blog has gone so far as calling the FTC the U.S.’s de facto Data Protection Authority (DPA). We respectfully disagree. The FTC is facing unprecedented challenges, while state attorneys general (AGs), who have similar—and in some instances greater—authority, are taking more and more steps to protect the privacy of their citizens.

Opinion

Legal Reform Is Needed on Both Sides of the Atlantic, Not Just in Europe

I recall that in the 1990s and early 2000s, it was often a struggle to get people outside of Europe to take EU data protection law seriously. The perceived lack of enforcement in the EU, and the dynamic legislative climate in the U.S., meant that more attention was given to U.S. developments.

The situation is now reversed, and there has been intense interest in the European Commission’s proposal for a General Data Protection Regulation published in January 2012, and in related developments such as calls for reform of the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor. U.S.-based lobbyists have descended in hordes on the EU institutions; U.S. government representatives travel to Brussels to lobby the EU, and U.S. authors publish articles and papers on complex issues of EU law. Brussels has become the center of the global privacy world.

This causes us in Europe to wonder: Why doesn’t the U.S. work as hard to improve its own privacy law as it does to lobby for changes in the EU?

More from Christopher Kuner

Practical Privacy

COPPA, Behavioral Ads, Mobile Marketing and Other Big PPS Takeaways

By Annie C. Bai, CIPP/US

Jed’s not the only one who was having a good time at last week’s Practical Privacy Series in NYC. Across the way, many of us found that an entire day was barely enough to devote to Online Marketing. First, it was all about the kids, then it was all about the web, and finally we ended with a rousing roundtable on Big Data. Here are some of the tidbits from the day that caused me to take pause and grab my pen.

More from Annie C. Bai

Internet of Things

Law of the Connected Horse? FTC Appropriately in Learning Mode on Internet of Things

Image from the FTC

As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) prepares to hold its first workshop on the “Internet of Things” (IoT) on November 19, early Internet era passages from the famous “law of the horse” debate between Judge Easterbrook and Professor Lessig seem apt. They remind us that with the emergence of new technologies comes the perennial contest over whether the current legal framework provides sufficient protections. To inform that debate with respect to privacy and data security protections, the FTC is using the daylong public workshop to learn about the technologies and data collection in the IoT ecosystem.

No proposals for new laws, regulations or law enforcement initiatives are on the table. The workshop is a mission in fact-finding.

More from Christopher Wolf

Opinion

Has the LIBE Committee Torpedoed the Safe Harbor?

The committee of the European Parliament charged with shepherding the proposed EU Data Protection Regulation—the LIBE Committee—finally has reported out an amended version of the Regulation. And despite the fact that a Commission-initiated review of the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor is pending, it appears the LIBE Committee effectively has called for the end of the Safe Harbor.

More from Christopher Wolf