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FTC's 'Reclaim Your Name' alone won't rein in data brokers, experts say

Antone Gonsalves | July 1, 2013
The Federal Trade Commission's new proposal to add some accountability to the data broker industry is merely a first step toward giving consumers some control over the handling of their personal information, privacy experts say.

"The FTC should use its Section 5 authority (under the FTC Act) to enforce the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights," he said.

Privacy rights group have been stepping up research and advocacy efforts aimed at putting a leash on data brokers. While Brill's proposal adds pressure to the industry, Jeffrey Chester, executive director for the Center For Digital Democracy, said it is "just one part of a growing consumer effort to rein in the out of control data broker business."

Other voluntary efforts at protecting consumer privacy have had limited success. For example, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is currently working with advertisers, privacy advocates, regulators and software developers on a standard for Do Not Track. The initiative is meant to give consumers an option within Web browsers to opt-out of being tracked by advertisers while on the Internet.

So far, a consensus on how much control should be given to Web users remains elusive. "There's progress, but it's slow," Aleecia M. McDonald, director of privacy for Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society, recently told CSOonline.


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