FTC Plans to Ensure Privacy on the Internet of Things

News and Analysis

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Trade Commission, which functions as an entity preventing illicit actions in various trading operations, has appointed Lorrie Cranor, an expert in online privacy and security, as its chief technologist. Previously she headed the Carnegie Mellon CyLab’s privacy lab, wrote over a hundred of works on Internet privacy and other related topics.

The aim of such appointment, according to the agency, is to ensure privacy maintenance on the background of emergence of the Internet of Things. According to Edith Ramirez, the FTC’s chairwoman, Craynor will help “guide the many areas of FTC work involving new technologies and platforms.”

However, the Commission has no official authority to regulate online privacy issues. However, it has issued a list of recommendations for maintenance of user data safety when using internet-connected appliances. Among them is the one recommending to require obtainment of user consent prior to data processing.

Many companies, however, while formally observing the requirement, do their best to cause user provide his or her consent accidentally, or to trick them into providing the consent by switching buttons on their menus, and so on.

Reed Freedman of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP thinks that appointment of a privacy expert manifests the entity’s willing to maintain its enforcement “at least on par” with the rapidly developing Internet of Things. “[It] is designed to help the FTC keep up with technology in both the FTC’s policy work and its enforcement work,” he commented to the WSJ.

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