CCIA Urges FTC, Congress to Address Government Surveillance Along With Other Online Privacy Issues

November 6, 2009

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has filed comments today in response to the FTC’s announcement of a roundtable series to explore consumer online privacy issues.

CCIA commends the Commission for hosting a series of roundtable discussions to explore important consumer online privacy issues surrounding information collection, and urges it and Congress not to lose sight of risks of inappropriate government information gathering.

The comments argue that the current patchwork approach to privacy policy does not provide consumers with the appropriate protections from government intrusion, especially in light of fast-paced innovation and technological changes. The comments also note that it is unclear whether existing standards for the protection of electronic communications apply to emerging technologies such as cloud computing.

The following statement can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“There is no denying that privacy issues are important and timely to explore. Just this week the House voted on extensions to USA PATRIOT Act provisions and approved amendments that would beef up protections for individuals’ library and bookstore files. But consumers want base-level protections on similar personal data regardless of whether the information is held by a bank, school, hospital or government, and whether it is stored on paper or electronically.

“I understand the obvious need to explore policies related to commercial collection and use of data, especially when it involves information about consumers. Unfortunately these well-intentioned efforts at boosting privacy are missing the mark if they focus soley on data collection and use by companies and fail to address information collected when consumers have little choice – like interacting with government agency services or with inappropriate government surveillance.

“There is a vibrant, competitive marketplace among online services, but privacy becomes a more critical issue where there is little competition. Internet users can leave a website with one mouse click if they don’t like the privacy policy, but it’s not as easy for them to leave their Internet access provider as there aren’t as many choices.”

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