The buzz words in privacy over the last few months (really longer than that) have been "Do Not Track." Twitter is just the latest company to adopt the DNT browser option, indicating in a blast email to all Twitter users that the setting is now available for implementation if a user so chooses. Interestingly, however, a much less publicized setting was also presented in that same email blast: Twitter's new "tailored suggestion feature." Applications and widgets created by Twitter will begin to collect data about Twitter users from third party websites that feature those products. This is an entirely new feature from Twitter, and is being implemented as a default option for both new and existing Twitter users.
Nowadays, a news story on privacy is out of place if it doesn't mention Do-Not-Track (known as "DNT") or Big Data. While these hot topics represent key concerns for privacy professionals, advocates and regulators, there is no clear agreement on what they mean or how to address the privacy issues they raise. In this post, we consider recent developments on these topics, including how the Federal Trade Commission has sought to focus on and connect these new issues.DNT or DNC DNT is in the midst of a multi-faceted identity crisis, starting with a disagreement over the definition of DNT. Self-regulatory organizations and the advertising industry assert that DNT stands for "Do Not Target," referring to the use of consumer data for the purposes of targeted advertising. The FTC, buoyed by privacy advocates, appears to take the view that DNT means not only "Do Not Target" but also "Do Not Collect" (DNC). FTC Commissioner Brill elaborated at the 2012 IAPP Summit that she doesn't view the current DNT efforts as entirely sufficient because the choice DNT offers does not give consumers appropriate protection against what Brill characterized as "limitless, unmitigated" data collection. But Brill does not argue for wholesale implementation of DNC, and has indicated that the details of the implementation of DNT/DNC will continue to remain a key focus for the FTC.
The FTC's December 2010 release of its much anticipated Privacy Framework included the typical public comment period, which ended in February. We've reviewed each of the 442 separate comments received by the FTC during the comment period to uncover the themes, trends and thoughts raised by the Framework. The result is added perspective into what the FTC will be weighing in its future versions and any resulting recommendations for additional legislation and regulation. With this in mind, what can the public comments tell us?